The Project Gutenberg eBook of Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, Vol. 2

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Title: Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, Vol. 2

Author: Henry Hallam

Release date: October 2, 2013 [eBook #43869]

Language: English

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Retrospect of Learning in Middle Ages Necessary 1
Loss of learning in Fall of Roman Empire 1
Boethius—his Consolation of Philosophy 1
Rapid Decline of Learning in Sixth Century 2
A Portion remains in the Church 2
Prejudices of the Clergy against Profane Learning 2
Their Uselessness in preserving it 3
First Appearances of reviving Learning in Ireland and England 3
Few Schools before the Age of Charlemagne 3
Beneficial Effects of those Established by him 4
The Tenth Century more progressive than usually supposed 4
Want of Genius in the Dark Ages 5
Prevalence of bad Taste 5
Deficiency of poetical Talent 5
Imperfect State of Language may account for this 6
Improvement at beginning of Twelfth Century 6
Leading Circumstances in Progress of Learning 6
Origin of the University of Paris 6
Modes of treating the Science of Theology 6
Scholastic Philosophy—its Origin 7
Roscelin 7
Progress of Scholasticism; Increase of University of Paris 8
Universities founded 8
Oxford 8
Collegiate Foundations not derived from the Saracens 9
Scholastic Philosophy promoted by Mendicant Friars 9
Character of this Philosophy 10
It prevails least in Italy 10
Literature in Modern Languages 10
Origin of the French, Spanish, and Italian Languages 10
Corruption of colloquial Latin in the Lower Empire 11
Continuance of Latin in Seventh Century 12
It is changed to a new Language in Eighth and Ninth 12
Early Specimens of French 13
Poem on Boethius 13
Provençal Grammar 14
Latin retained in use longer in Italy 14
French of Eleventh Century 14
Metres of Modern Languages 15
Origin of Rhyme in Latin 16
Provençal and French Poetry 16
Metrical Romances—Havelok the Dane 18
Diffusion of French Language 19
German Poetry of Swabian Period 19
Decline of German Poetry 20
Poetry of France and Spain 21
Early Italian Language 22
Dante and Petrarch 22
Change of Anglo-Saxon to English 22
Layamon 23
Progress of English Language 23
English of the Fourteenth Century—Chaucer, Gower 24
General Disuse of French in England 24
State of European Languages about 1400 25
Ignorance of Reading and Writing in darker Ages 25
Reasons for supposing this to have diminished after 1100 26
Increased Knowledge of Writing in Fourteenth Century 27
Average State of Knowledge in England 27
Invention of Paper 28
Linen Paper when first used 28
Cotton Paper 28
Linen Paper as old as 1100 28
Known to Peter of Clugni 29
And in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century 29
Paper of mixed Materials 29
Invention of Paper placed by some too low 29
Not at first very important 30
Importance of Legal Studies 30
Roman Laws never wholly unknown 31
Irnerius—his first Successors 31
Their Glosses 31
Abridgements of Law—Accursius’s Corpus Glossatum 31
Character of early Jurists 32
Decline of Jurists after Accursius 32
Respect paid to him at Bologna 33
Scholastic Jurists—Bartolus 33
Inferiority of Jurists in Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries 34
Classical Literature and Taste in dark Ages 34
Improvement in Tenth and Eleventh Centuries 34
Lanfranc and his Schools 35
Italy—Vocabulary of Papias 36
Influence of Italy upon Europe 36
Increased copying of Manuscripts 36
John of Salisbury 36
Improvement of Classical Taste in Twelfth Century 37
Influence of increased Number of Clergy 38
Decline of Classical Literature in Thirteenth Century 38
Relapse into Barbarism 38
No Improvement in Fourteenth Century—Richard of Bury 39
Library formed by Charles V. at Paris 39
Some Improvement in Italy during Thirteenth Century 40
Catholicon of Balbi 40
Imperfection of early Dictionaries 40
Restoration of Letters due to Petrarch 40
Character of his Style 41
His Latin Poetry 41
John of Ravenna 41
Gasparin of Barziza 42
Zeal for Classical Literature in Italy 42
Poggio Bracciolini 42
Latin Style of that Age indifferent 43
Gasparin of Barziza 43
Merits of his Style 43
Victorin of Feltre 44
Leonard Aretin 44
Revival of Greek Language in Italy 44
Early Greek Scholars of Europe 44
Under Charlemagne and his Successors 45
In the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries 45
In the Twelfth 46
In the Thirteenth 46
Little Appearance of it in the Fourteenth Century 47
Some Traces of Greek in Italy 47
Corruption of Greek Language itself 47
Character of Byzantine Literature 48
Petrarch and Boccace learn Greek 48
Few acquainted with the Language in their Time 49
It is taught by Chrysoloras about 1395 49
His Disciples 49
Translations from Greek into Latin 50
Public Encouragement delayed 51
But fully accorded before 1440 51
Emigration of learned Greeks to Italy 52
Causes of Enthusiasm for Antiquity in Italy 52
Advanced State of Society 52
Exclusive Study of Antiquity 53
Classical Learning in France low 53
Much more so in England 53
Library of Duke of Gloucester 54
Gerard Groot’s College at Deventer 54
Physical Sciences in Middle Ages 55
Arabian Numerals and Method 55
Proofs of them in Thirteenth Century 56
Mathematical Treatises 56
Roger Bacon 57
His Resemblance to Lord Bacon 57
English Mathematicians of Fourteenth Century 57
Astronomy 58
Alchemy 58
Medicine 58
Anatomy 58
Encyclopædic Works of Middle Ages 58
Vincent of Beauvais 59
Berchorius 59
Spanish Ballads 59
Metres of Spanish Poetry 60
Consonant and assonant Rhymes 60
Nature of the Glosa 61
The Cancionero General 61
Bouterwek’s Character of Spanish Songs 61
John II. 62
Poets of his Court 62
Charles, Duke of Orleans 62
English Poetry 62
Lydgate 63
James I. of Scotland 63
Restoration of Classical Learning due to Italy 63
Character of Classical Poetry lost in Middle Ages 64
New School of Criticism in Modern Languages 64
Effect of Chivalry on Poetry 64
Effect of Gallantry towards Women 64
Its probable Origin 64
It is shown in old Teutonic Poetry; but appears in the Stories of Arthur 65
Romances of Chivalry of two Kinds 65
Effect of Difference of Religion upon Poetry 66
General Tone of Romance 66
Popular Moral Fictions 66
Exclusion of Politics from Literature 67
Religious Opinions 67
Attacks on the Church 67
Three Lines of Religious Opinions in Fifteenth Century 67
Treatise de Imitatione Christi 68
Scepticism—Defences of Christianity 69
Raimond de Sebonde 69
His Views misunderstood 69
His real Object 70
Nature of his Arguments 70
The year 1440 not chosen as an Epoch 71
Continual Progress of Learning 71
Nicolas V. 71
Justice due to his Character 72
Poggio on the Ruins of Rome 72
Account of the East, by Conti 72
Laurentius Valla 72
His Attack on the Court of Rome 72
His Treatise on the Latin Language 73
Its Defects 73
Heeren’s Praise of it 73
Valla’s Annotations on the New Testament 73
Fresh Arrival of Greeks in Italy 74
Platonists and Aristotelians 74
Their Controversy 74
Marsilius Ficinus 75
Invention of Printing 75
Block Books 75
Gutenberg and Costar’s Claims 75
Progress of the Invention 76
First printed Bible 76
Beauty of the Book 77
Early printed Sheets 77
Psalter of 1547—Other early Books 77
Bible of Pfister 77
Greek first taught at Paris 78
Leave unwillingly granted 78
Purbach—his Mathematical Discoveries 78
Other Mathematicians 78
Progress of Printing in Germany 79
Introduced into France 79
Caxton’s first Works 79
Printing exercised in Italy 79
Lorenzo de’ Medici 80
Italian Poetry of Fifteenth Century 80
Italian Prose of same Age 80
Giostra of Politian 80
Paul II. persecutes the Learned 81
Mathias Corvinus 81
His Library 81
Slight Signs of Literature in England 81
Paston Letters 82
Low Condition of Public Libraries 83
Rowley 83
Clotilde de Surville 83
Number of Books printed in Italy 83
First Greek printed 84
Study of Antiquities 84
Works on that Subject 84
Publications in Germany 85
In France 85
In England, by Caxton 85
In Spain 85
Translations of Scripture 85
Revival of Literature in Spain 86
Character of Labrixa 86
Library of Lorenzo 87
Classics corrected and explained 87
Character of Lorenzo 87
Prospect from his Villa at Fiesole 87
Platonic Academy 88
Disputationes Camaldulenses of Landino 88
Philosophical Dialogues 89
Paulus Cortesius 89
Schools in Germany 89
Study of Greek at Paris 91
Controversy of Realists and Nominalists 91
Scotus 91
Ockham 92
Nominalists in University of Paris 92
Low State of Learning in England 92
Mathematics 93
Regiomontanus 93
Arts of Delineation 93
Maps 94
Geography 94
Greek printed in Italy 94
Hebrew printed 95
Miscellanies of Politian 95
Their Character, by Heeren 95
His Version of Herodian 96
Cornucopia of Perotti 96
Latin Poetry of Politian 96
Italian Poetry of Lorenzo 97
Pulci 97
Character of Morgante Maggiore 97
Platonic Theology of Ficinus 98
Doctrine of Averroes on the Soul 98
Opposed by Ficinus 99
Desire of Man to explore Mysteries 99
Various Methods employed 99
Reason and Inspiration 99
Extended Inferences from Sacred Books 99
Confidence in Traditions 100
Confidence in Individuals as inspired 100
Jewish Cabbala 100
Picus of Mirandola 101
His Credulity in the Cabbala 101
His Literary Performances 102
State of Learning in Germany 102
Agricola 103
Renish Academy 103
Reuchlin 104
French Language and Poetry 104
European Drama 104
Latin 104
Orfeo of Politian 105
Origin of Dramatic Mysteries 105
Their early Stage 105
Extant English Mysteries 105
First French Theatre 106
Theatrical Machinery 107
Italian Religious Dramas 107
Moralities 107
Farces 107
Mathematical Works 107
Leo Baptista Alberti 108
Lionardo da Vinci 108
Aldine Greek Editions 109
Decline of Learning in Italy 110
Hermolaus Barbarus 111
Mantuan 111
Pontanus 111
Neapolitan Academy 112
Boiardo 112
Francesco Bello 113
Italian Poetry near the End of the Century 113
Progress of Learning in France and Germany 113
Erasmus—his Diligence 114
Budæus—his early Studies 114
Latin not well written in France 115
Dawn of Greek Learning in England 115
Erasmus comes to England 116
He publishes his Adages 116
Romantic Ballads of Spain 116
Pastoral Romances 117
Portuguese Lyric Poetry 117
German popular Books 117
Historical Works 118
Philip de Comines 118
Algebra 118
Events from 1490 to 1500 119
Close of Fifteenth Century 119
Its Literature nearly neglected 119
Summary of its Acquisitions 119
Their Imperfection 120
Number of Books printed 120
Advantages already reaped from Printing 120
Trade of Bookselling 121
Books sold by Printers 121
Price of Books 122
Form of Books 122
Exclusive Privileges 122
Power of Universities over Bookselling 123
Restraints on Sale of Printed Books 124
Effect of Printing on the Reformation 124
Decline of Learning in Italy 125
Press of Aldus 125
His Academy 126
Dictionary of Calepio 126
Books printed in Germany 126
First Greek Press at Paris 126
Early Studies of Melanchthon 127
Learning in England 127
Erasmus and Budæus 128
Study of Eastern Languages 128
Dramatic Works 128
Calisto and Melibœa 128
Its Character 129
Juan de la Enzina 129
Arcadia of Sanazzaro 129
Asolani of Bembo 130
Dunbar 130
Anatomy of Zerbi 130
Voyages of Cadamosto 130
Leo X., his Patronage of Letters 131
Roman Gymnasium 131
Latin Poetry 132
Italian Tragedy 132
Sophonisba of Trissino 132
Rosmunda of Rucellai 132
Comedies of Ariosto 132
Books printed in Italy 133
Cælius Rhodiginus 133
Greek printed in France and Germany 133
Greek Scholars in these Countries 134
College at Alcala and Louvain 134
Latin Style in France 135
Greek Scholars in England 135
Mode of Teaching in Schools 136
Few Classical Works printed here 137
State of Learning in Scotland 137
Utopia of More 137
Inconsistency in his Opinions 138
Learning restored in France 138
Jealousy of Erasmus and Budæus 138
Character of Erasmus 139
His Adages severe on Kings 139
Instances in illustration 140
His Greek Testament 142
Patrons of Letters in Germany 142
Resistance to Learning 143
Unpopularity of the Monks 145
The Book excites Odium 145
Erasmus attacks the Monks 145
Their Contention with Reuchlin 145
Origin of the Reformation 146
Popularity of Luther 147
Simultaneous Reform by Zwingle 147
Reformation prepared beforehand 147
Dangerous Tenets of Luther 148
Real Explanation of them 149
Orlando Furioso 150
Its Popularity 150
Want of Seriousness 150
A Continuation of Boiardo 150
In some Points inferior 151
Beauties of its Style 151
Accompanied with Faults 151
Its Place as a Poem 152
Amadis de Gaul 152
Gringore 152
Hans Sachs 152
Stephen Hawes 153
Change in English Language 153
Skelton 154
Oriental Languages 154
Pomponatius 155
Raymond Lully 155
His Method 155
Peter Martyr’s Epistles 156
Superiority of Italy in Taste 157
Admiration of Antiquity 158
Sadolet 158
Bembo 159
Ciceronianus of Erasmus 159
Scaliger’s Invective against it 160
Editions of Cicero 160
Alexander ab Alexandro 160
Works on Roman Antiquities 161
Greek less Studied in Italy 161
Schools of Classical Learning 161
Budæus—his Commentaries on Greek 161
Their Character 162
Greek Grammars and Lexicons 162
Editions of Greek Authors 163
Latin Thesaurus of R. Stephens 163
Progress of Learning in France 164
Learning in Spain 165
Effects of Reformation on Learning 165
Sturm’s Account of German Schools 165
Learning in Germany 166
In England—Linacre 166
Lectures in the Universities 166
Greek perhaps Taught to Boys 167
Teaching of Smith at Cambridge 167
Succeeded by Cheke 168
Ascham’s Character of Cambridge 168
Wood’s Account of Oxford 168
Education of Edward and his Sisters 169
The Progress of Learning is still slow 169
Want of Books and Public Libraries 169
Destruction of Monasteries no Injury to Learning 169
Ravisius Textor 170
Conrad Gesner 170
Progress of the Reformation 171
Interference of Civil Power 171
Excitement of Revolutionary Spirit 172
Growth of Fanaticism 172
Differences of Luther and Zwingle 172
Confession of Augsburg 173
Conduct of Erasmus 173
Estimate of it 174
His Controversy with Luther 174
Character of his Epistles 176
His Alienation from the Reformers increases 176
Appeal of the Reformers to the Ignorant 176
Parallel of those Times with the Present 177
Calvin 177
His Institutes 177
Increased Differences among Reformers 178
Reformed Tenets spread in England 178
In Italy 178
Italian Heterodoxy 179
Its Progress in the Literary Classes 180
Servetus 180
Arianism in Italy 181
Protestants in Spain and Low Countries 181
Order of Jesuits 181
Their Popularity 181
Council of Trent 182
Its Chief Difficulties 182
Character of Luther 182
Theological Writings—Erasmus 183
Melanchthon—Romish Writers 183
This Literature nearly forgotten 184
Sermons 184
Spirit of the Reformation 184
Limits of Private Judgment 185
Passions instrumental in Reformation 185
Establishment of new Dogmatism 186
Editions of Scripture 186
Translations of Scripture 186
In English 187
In Italy and Low Countries 187
Latin Translations 187
French Translations 188
Logic included under this head 188
Slow Defeat of Scholastic Philosophy 188
It is sustained by the Universities and Regulars 188
Commentators on Aristotle 188
Attack of Vives on Scholastics 189
Contempt of them in England 189
Veneration for Aristotle 189
Melanchthon countenances him 189
His own Philosophical Treatises 190
Aristotelians of Italy 190
University of Paris 190
New Logic of Ramus 190
It meets with unfair treatment 191
Its Merits and Character 191
Buhle’s account of it 191
Paracelsus 191
His Impostures 192
And Extravagancies 192
Cornelius Agrippa 192
His pretended Philosophy 193
His Sceptical Treatise 193
Cardan 193
Influence of Moral Writers 194
Cortegiano of Castiglione 194
Marco Aurelio of Guevara 194
His Menosprecio di Corte 194
Perez d’Oliva 195
Ethical Writings of Erasmus and Melanchthon 195
Sir T. Elyot’s Governor 195
Severity of Education 196
He seems to avoid Politics 196
Nicholas Machiavel 196
His motives in writing the Prince 197
Some of his Rules not immoral 197
But many dangerous 197
Its only Palliation 198
His Discourses on Livy 198
Their leading Principles 198
Their Use and Influence 199
His History of Florence 199
Treatises on Venetian Government 199
Calvin’s Political Principles 199
Jurisprudence confined to Roman Law 200
The Laws not well arranged 200
Adoption of the entire System 200
Utility of General Learning to Lawyers 200
Alciati—his Reform of Law 201
Opposition to him 201
Agustino 201
Poetry of Bembo 201
Its Beauties and Defects 202
Character of Italian Poetry 202
Alamanni 202
Vittoria Colonna 202
Satires of Ariosto and Alamanni 203
Alamanni 203
Rucellai 203
Trissino 203
Berni 203
Spanish Poets 204
Boscan and Garcilasso 204
Mendoza 204
Saa di Miranda 205
Ribeyro 205
French Poetry 205
Marot 206
Its Metrical Structure 206
German Poetry 206
Hans Sachs 206
German Hymn 206
Theuerdanks of Pfintzing 206
English Poetry—Lyndsay 206
Wyatt and Surrey 207
Dr. Nott’s Character of them 207
Perhaps rather exaggerated 208
Surrey improves our versification 208
Introduces Blank Verse 208
Dr. Nott’s Hypothesis as to his Metre 208
It seems too extensive 209
Politeness of Wyatt and Surrey 209
Latin Poetry 210
Sannazarius 210
Vida 210
Fracastorius 210
Latin Verse not to be disdained 210
Other Latin Poets in Italy 211
In Germany 211
Italian Comedy 211
Machiavel 211
Aretin 211
Tragedy 212
Sperone 212
Cinthio 212
Spanish Drama 212
Torres Naharro 212
Lope de Rueda 212
Gil Vicente 213
Mysteries and Moralities in France 213
German Theatre—Hans Sachs 213
Moralities and Similar Plays in England 214
They are turned to religious Satire 214
Latin Plays 214
First English Comedy 215
Romances of Chivalry 215
Novels 215
Rabelais 216
Contest of Latin and Italian Languages 216
Influence of Bembo in this 217
Apology for Latinists 217
Character of the Controversy 217
Life of Bembo 217
Character of Italian and Spanish Style 218
English Writers 218
More 218
Ascham 218
Italian Criticism 218
Bembo 218
Grammarians and Critics in France 219
Orthography of Meigret 219
Cox’s Art of Rhetoric 219
Geometrical Treatises 220
Fernel Rhœticus 220
Cardan and Tartaglia 220
Cubic Equations 220
Beauty of the Discovery 221
Cardan’s other Discoveries 221
Imperfections of Algebraic Language 222
Copernicus 222
Revival of Greek Medicine 223
Linacre and other Physicians 223
Medical Innovators 224
Paracelsus 224
Anatomy 224
Berenger 224
Vesalius 224
Portal’s Account of him 225
His Human Dissections 225
Fate of Vesalius 225
Other Anatomists 225
Imperfection of the Science 225
Botany—Botanical Gardens 226
Ruel 226
Fuchs 226
Matthioli 226
Low State of Zoology 226
Agricola 227
Hebrew 227
Elias Levita—Pellican 227
Arabic and Oriental Literature 227
Geography of Grynæus 228
Apianus 228
Munster 228
Voyages 228
Oviedo 228
Historical Works 228
Italian Academies 229
They pay regard to the Language 229
Their fondness for Petrarch 229
They become numerous 229
Their Distinctions 230
Evils connected with them 230
They succeed less in Germany 230
Libraries 230
Progress of Philology 231
First Editions of Classics 231
Change in Character of Learning 232
Cultivation of Greek 232
Principal Scholars—Turnebus 232
Petrus Victorius 233
Muretus 233
Gruter’s Thesaurus Criticus 234
Editions of Greek and Latin Authors 235
Tacitus of Lipsius 235
Horace of Lambinus 235
Of Cruquius 236
Henry Stephens 236
Lexicon of Constantin 237
Thesaurus of Stephens 237
Abridged by Scapula 238
Hellenismus of Caninius 239
Vergara’s Grammar 239
Grammars of Ramus and Sylburgius 239
Camerarius—Canter—Robortellus 240
Editions by Sylburgius 241
Neander 241
Gesner 241
Decline of Taste in Germany 242
German Learning 242
Greek Verses of Rhodomanu 242
Learning Declines 243
Except in Catholic Germany 243
Philological Works of Stephens 243
Style of Lipsius 244
Minerva of Sanctius 244
Orations of Muretus 244
Panegyric of Ruhnkenius 244
Defects of his Style 245
Epistles of Manutius 245
Care of the Italian Latinists 245
Perpinianus—Osorius—Maphœus 246
Buchanan—Haddon 246
Sigonius, De Consolatione 246
Decline of Taste and Learning in Italy 247
Joseph Scaliger 247
Isaac Casaubon 248
General Result 249
Learning in England under Edward and Mary 249
Revival under Elizabeth 249
Greek Lectures at Cambridge 250
Few Greek Editions in England 250
School Books enumerated 250
Greek taught in Schools 251
Greek better known after 1580 251
Editions of Greek 252
And of Latin Classics 252
Learning lower than in Spain 252
Improvement at the End of the Century. 253
Learning in Scotland 253
Latin little used in Writing 253
Early Works on Antiquities 254
P. Manutius on Roman Laws 254
Manutius, De Civitate 254
Panvinius—Sigonius 255
Gruchius 255
Sigonius on Athenian Polity 256
Patrizzi and Lipsius on Roman Militia 256
Lipsius and other Antiquaries 256
Saville on Roman Militia 257
Numismatics 257
Mythology 257
Scaliger’s Chronology 258
Julian Period 258
Diet of Augsburg in 1555 259
Progress of Protestantism 259
Its Causes 260
Wavering of Catholic Princes 260
Extinguished in Italy and Spain 260
Reaction of Catholicity 260
Especially in Germany 261
Discipline of the Clergy 261
Influence of Jesuits 261
Their Progress 262
Their Colleges 262
Jesuit Seminary at Rome 262
Patronage of Gregory XIII. 262
Conversions in Germany and France 263
Causes of this Reaction 263
A rigid Party in the Church 264
Its Efforts at Trent 264
No Compromise in Doctrine 265
Consultation of Cassander 265
Bigotry of Protestant Churches 266
Tenets of Melanchthon 266
A Party hostile to him 267
Form of Concord, 1576 267
Controversy raised by Baius 267
Treatise of Molina on Free will 268
Protestant Tenets 268
Trinitarian Controversy 268
Religious Intolerance 270
Castalio 270
Answered by Beza 271
Aconcio 271
Minus Celsus, Koornhert 271
Decline of Protestantism 272
Desertion of Lipsius 272
Jewell’s Apology 272
English Theologians 272
Bellarmin 273
Topics of Controversy changed 273
It turns on Papal Power 274
This upheld by the Jesuits 274
Claim to depose Princes 274
Bull against Elizabeth 274
And Henry IV. 275
Deposing Power owned in Spain 275
Asserted by Bellarmin 275
Methods of Theological Doctrine 275
Loci Communes 275
In the Protestant and Catholic Church 276
Catharin 276
Critical and Expository Writings 276
Ecclesiastical Historians 277
Le Clerc’s Character of them 277
Deistical Writers 277
Wierus, De Præstigiis 278
Scot on Witchcraft 278
Authenticity of Vulgate 278
Latin Versions and Editions by Catholics 278
By Protestants 279
Versions into Modern Languages 279
Predominance of Aristotelian Philosophy 279
Scholastic and genuine Aristotelians 280
The former class little remembered 280
The others not much better known 280
Schools of Pisa and Padua 280
Cesalpini 280
Sketch of his System 280
Cremonini 281
Opponents of Aristotle 281
Patrizzi 281
System of Telesio 281
Jordano Bruno 282
His Italian Works—Cena de li Ceneri 282
Della Causa, Principio ed Uno 282
Pantheism of Bruno 283
Bruno’s other Writings 284
General Character of his Philosophy 285
Sceptical Theory of Sanchez 286
Logic of Aconcio 286
Nizolius on the Principles of Philosophy 286
Margarita Antoniana of Pereira 287
Logic of Ramus—its Success 288
Soto, De Justitia 289
Hooker 290
His Theory of Natural Law 290
Doubts felt by others 290
Essays of Montaigne 290
Their Characteristics 290
Writers on Morals in Italy 293
In England 293
Bacon’s Essays 293
Number of Political Writers 294
Oppression of Governments 294
And Spirit generated by it 294
Derived from Classic History 294
From their own and the Jewish 294
Franco Gallia of Hossoman 295
Vindiciæ of Languet 295
Contr’Un of Boetie 295
Buchanan, De Jure Regni 296
Poynet, on Politique Power 296
Its liberal Theory 296
Argues for Tyrannicide 297
The Tenets of Parties swayed by Circumstances 297
Similar Tenets among the Leaguers 298
Rose on the Authority of Christian States over Kings 298
Treatise of Boucher in the same Spirit 299
Answered by Barclay 299
The Jesuits adopt these Tenets 299
Mariana, De Rege 299
Popular Theories in England 300
Hooker 300
Political Memoirs 301
La Noue 301
Lipsius 301
Botero 301
His Remarks on Population 301
Paruta 302
Bodin 302
Analysis of his Treatise called the Republic 302
Authority of Heads of Families 302
Domestic Servitude 303
Origin of Commonwealths 303
Privileges of Citizens 303
Nature of Sovereign Power 304
Forms of Government 304
Despotism and Monarchy 304
Aristocracy 305
Senates and Councils of State 305
Duties of Magistrates 305
Corporations 305
Slaves, part of the State 305
Rise and Fall of States 306
Causes of Revolution 306
Astrological Fancies of Bodin 306
Danger of sudden Changes 307
Judicial Power of the Sovereign 307
Toleration of Religions 307
Influence of Climate on Government 307
Means of obviating Inequality 308
Confiscations—Rewards 308
Fortresses 308
Necessity of Good Faith 309
Census of Property 309
Public Revenues 309
Taxation 309
Adulteration of Coin 310
Superiority of Monarchy 310
Conclusion of the Work 310
Bodin compared with Aristotle and Machiavel 310
And with Montesquieu 310
Golden Age of Jurisprudence 311
Cujacius 311
Eulogies bestowed upon him 311
Cujacius, an Interpreter of Law rather than a Lawyer 312
French Lawyers below Cujacius—Govca and others 312
Opponents of the Roman Law 313
Faber of Savoy 313
Anti-Tribonianus of Hottoman 313
Civil Law not countenanced in France 314
Turamini 314
Cau Law 314
Law of Nations; its early State 314
Francis a Victoria 314
His Opinions on Public Law 315
Ayala, on the Rights of War 315
Albericus Gentilis on Embassies 316
His Treatise on the Rights of War 317
General Character of Italian Poets in this Age 318
Their usual Faults 318
Their Beauties 318
Character given by Muratori 318
Poetry of Casa 318
Of Costanzo 319
Baldi 319
Caro 319
Odes of Celio Magus 319
Coldness of the Amatory Sonnets 320
Studied Imitation of Petrarch 320
Their Fondness for Description 320
Judgment of Italian Critics 320
Bernardino Rota 320
Gaspara Stampa; her Love for Collalto 321
Is ill-requited 322
Her Second Love 322
Style of Gaspara Stampa 322
La Nautica of Baldi 322
Amadigi of Bernardo Tasso 323
Satirical and burlesque Poetry; Aretin 323
Other burlesque Writers 324
Attempts at Latin Metres 324
Poetical Translations 324
Torquato Tasso 324
The Jerusalem excellent in Choice of Subject 324
Superior to Homer and Virgil in some Points 324
Its Characters 325
Excellence of its Style 325
Some Faults in it 325
Defects of the Poem 326
It indicates the peculiar Genius of Tasso 326
Tasso compared to Virgil 326
To Ariosto 326
To the Bolognese Painters 327
Poetry Cultivated under Charles and Philip 327
Luis de Leon 328
Herrera 328
General Tone of Castilian Poetry 329
Castillejo 329
Araucana of Ercilla 329
Many epic Poems in Spain 329
Camœns 330
Defects of the Lusiad 330
Its Excellencies 330
Mickle’s Translation 330
Celebrated Passage in the Lusiad 331
Minor Poems of Camœns 331
Ferreira 331
Spanish Ballads 331
French Poets numerous 332
Change in the Tone of French Poetry 333
Ronsard 333
Other French Poets 334
Du Bartas 334
Pibrac; Desportes 335
French Metre and Versification 335
General character of French Poetry 335
German Poetry 336
Paradise of Dainty Devices 336
Character of this Collection 336
Sackville’s Induction 336
Inferiority of Poets in early years of Elizabeth 337
Gascoyne 337
Spenser’s Shepherd’s Kalendar 337
Sydney’s Character of Contemporary Poets 338
Improvement soon after this Time 338
Relaxation of Moral Austerity 339
Serious Poetry 339
Poetry of Sydney 339
Epithalanium of Spenser 340
Poems of Shakspeare 340
Daniel and Drayton 340
Nosce Teipsum of Davies 340
Satires of Hall, Marston, and Donne 341
Modulation of English Verse 341
Translations of Homer by Chapman 341
Of Tasso by Fairfax 342
Employment of Ancient Measures 342
Number of Poets in this Age 342
Scots and English Ballads 343
The Faery Queen 343
Superiority of the First Book 343
The succeeding Books 344
Spenser’s Sense of Beauty 344
Compared to Ariosto 344
Style of Spenser 345
Inferiority of the latter Books 345
Allegories of the Faery Queen 346
Blemishes in the Diction 346
Admiration of the Faery Queen 346
General Parallel of Italian and English Poetry 347
Decline of Latin Poetry in Italy 347
Compensated in other Countries 347
Lotichius 347
Collections of Latin Poetry by Gruter 348
Characters of some Gallo-Latin Poets 348
Sammarthanus 349
Belgic Poets 349
Scots Poets—Buchanan 349
Italian Tragedy 350
Pastoral Drama 351
Aminta of Tasso 351
Pastor Fido of Guarini 352
Italian Opera 352
The National Taste revives in the Spanish Drama 353
Lope de Vega 353
His Extraordinary Fertility 353
His Versification 354
His Popularity 354
Character of his Comedies 354
Tragedy of Don Sancho Ortiz 355
His Spiritual Plays 356
Numancia of Cervantes 356
French Theatre—Jodelle 357
Garnier 357
Comedies of Larivey 358
Theatres in Paris 358
English Stage 359
Gammar Gurton’s Needle 359
Gorboduc of Sackville 359
Preference given to the Irregular Form 359
First Theatres 360
Plays of Whetstone and Others 360
Marlowe and his Contemporaries 360
Tamburlaine 361
Blank Verse of Marlowe 361
Marlowe’s Jew of Malta 361
And Faustus 361
His Edward II. 361
Plays whence Henry VI. was taken 361
Peele 362
Greene 362
Other Writers of this Age 363
Heywood’s Woman Killed with Kindness 363
William Shakspeare 364
His First Writings for the Stage 364
Comedy of Errors 365
Love’s Labour Lost 365
Taming of the Shrew 365
Midsummer Night’s Dream 365
Its Machinery 366
Its Language 366
Romeo and Juliet 366
Its Plot 367
Its Beauties and Blemishes 367
The Characters 367
The Language 367
Second Period of Shakspeare 368
The Historical Plays 368
Merchant of Venice 368
As You Like It 369
Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour 369
Italian Writers 369
Casa 369
Tasso 370
Firenzuola 370
Character of Italian Prose 370
Italian Letter Writers 370
Davanzati’s Tacitus 371
Jordano Bruno 371
French Writers—Amyot 371
Montaigne; Du Vair 371
Satire Menippée 372
English Writers 372
Ascham 372
Euphues of Lilly 373
Its Popularity 373
Sydney’s Arcadia 374
His Defence of Poesie 374
Hooker 374
Character of Elizabethan Writers 374
State of Criticism 375
Scaliger’s Poetics 375
His Preference of Virgil to Homer 375
His Critique on Modern Latin Poets 376
Critical Influence of the Academics 376
Dispute of Caro and Castelvetro 377
Castelvetro on Aristotle’s Poetics 377
Severity of Castelvetro’s Criticism 377
Ercolano of Varchi 378
Controversy about Dante 378
Academy of Florence 378
Salviati’s Attack on Tasso 379
Pinciano’s Art of Poetry 379
French Treatises of Criticism 379
Wilson’s Art of Rhetorique 379
Gascoyne; Webbe 380
Puttenham’s Art of Poesie 380
Sydney’s Defence of Poesy 380
Novels of Bandello 380
Of Cinthio 381
Of the Queen of Navarre 381
Spanish Romances of Chivalry 381
Diana of Monte-Mayor 382
Novels in the Picaresque Style 382
Guzman d’Alfarache 382
Las Guerras de Granada 383
Sydney’s Arcadia 383
Its Character 383
Inferiority of other English Fictions 384
Tartaglia and Cardan 385
Algebra of Pelletier 385
Record’s Whetstone of Wit 385
Vieta 385
His Discoveries 386
Geometers of this Period 388
Joachim Rhœticus 388
Copernican Theory 388
Tycho Brahe 389
His System 389
Gregorian Calendar 390
Optics 390
Mechanics 390
Statics of Stevinus 391
Hydrostatics 392
Gilbert on the Magnet 392
Gesner’s Zoology 392
Its Character by Cuvier 392
Gesner’s Arrangement 393
His Additions to known Quadrupeds 393
Belon 394
Salviani and Rondelet’s Ichthyology 394
Aldrovandus 394
Botany—Turner 395
Maranta—Botanical Gardens 395
Gesner 396
Dodœns 396
Lobel 396
Clusius 396
Cæsalpin 396
Dalechamps—Bauhin 397
Gerard’s Herbal 397
Anatomy—Fallopius 397
Eustachius 397
Coiter 398
Columbus 398
Circulation of the Blood 398
Medicinal Science 398
Syriac Version of New Testament 399
Hebrew Critics 399
Its Study in England 399
Arabic begins to be Studied 399
Collection of Voyages by Ramusio 400
Curiosity they awakened 400
Other Voyages 401
Accounts of China 401
India and Russia 401
English Discoveries in the Northern Seas 401
Geographical Books—Ortelius 401
Guicciardini 402
French Memoirs 403
Universities in Italy 403
In other Countries 403
Libraries 403
Collections of Antiquities in Italy 404
Pinelli 404
Italian Academies 405
Society of Antiquaries in England 405
New Books and Catalogues of them 406
Literary Correspondence 406
Bibliographical Works 406
Restraints on the Press 407
Index Expurgatorius 407
Its Effects 407
Restrictions in England 407
Latin more employed on this account 408
Influence of Literature 408
Learning of 17th Century less Philological 409
Popularity of Comenius 409
Decline of Greek Learning 410
Casaubon 410
Viger de Idiotismis 411
Weller’s Greek Grammar 411
Labbe and Others 411
Salmasius de Lingua Hellenistica 412
Greek Editions—Savile’s Chrysostom 412
Greek Learning in England 413
Latin Editions—Torrentius 413
Gruter 413
Heinsius 413
Grotius 414
Rutgersius—Reinesius—Barthius 414
Other Critics—English 414
Salmasius 415
Good Writers of Latin 415
Scioppius 416
His Philosophical Grammar 416
His Infamia Famiani 416
Judicium de Stylo Historico 416
Gerard Vossius, de Vitiis Sermonis 417
His Aristarchus 417
Progress of Latin Style 418
Gruter’s Collection of Inscriptions 418
Assisted by Scaliger 419
Works on Roman Antiquity 419
Geography of Cluversius 420
Meursius 420
Ubbo Emmius 420
Chronology of Lydiat—Calvisius 420
Petavius 421
Character of this Work 421
Temporal Supremacy of Rome 422
Contest with Venice 423
Father Paul Sarpi 423
History of Council of Trent 424
Gallican Liberties—Richter 424
Perron 425
Decline of Papal Power 425
Unpopularity of the Jesuits 426
Richelieu’s Care of Gallican Liberties 426
Controversy of Catholics and Protestants 426
Increased respect for the Fathers 426
Especially in England—Laud 427
Defections to the Catholic Church 427
Wavering of Casaubon 428
And of Grotius 429
Calixtus 434
His Attempts at Concord 434
High Church Party in England 435
Daillé on the Right Use of the Fathers 435
Chillingworth’s Religion of Protestants 436
Character of this Work 436
Hales on Schism 438
Controversies on Grace and Free will—Augustinian Scheme 438
Semi-pelagian Hypothesis 439
Tenets of the Reformers 439
Rise of Arminianism 440
Episcopius 440
His Writings 440
Their Spirit and Tendency 440
Great Latitude allowed by them 441
Progress of Arminianism 441
Cameron 441
Rise of Jansenism 441
Socinus—Volkelius 442
Crellius—Ruarus 442
Erastianism maintained by Hooker 443
And Grotius 444
His Treatise on Ecclesiastical Power of the State 444
Remark upon this Theory 446
Toleration of Religious Tenets 446
Claimed by the Arminians 446
By the Independents 447
And by Jeremy Taylor 447
His Liberty of Prophesying 447
Boldness of his Doctrines 447
His Notions of Uncertainty in Theological Tenets 448
His low Opinion of the Fathers 448
Difficulty of Finding out Truth 449
Grounds of Toleration 449
Inconsistency of One Chapter 450
His General Defence of Toleration 450
Effect of this Treatise 451
Its Defects 451
Great Erudition of this Period 452
Usher—Petavius 452
Sacred Criticism 452
Grotius—Coccejus 452
English Commentators 453
Style of Preaching 453
English Sermons 453
Of Donne 454
Of Jeremy Taylor 454
Devotional Writings of Taylor and Hall 454
In the Roman 455
And Lutheran Church 455
Infidelity of some Writers—Charron—Vanini 455
Lord Herbert of Cherbury 456
Grotius de Veritate 457
English Translation of the Bible 457
Its Style 457
Subjects of this Chapter 458
Aristotelians and Ramists 458
No improvement till near the End of the Century 459
Methods of the Universities 459
Scholastic Writers 459
Treatises on Logic 460
Campanella 460
His Theory taken from Telesio 460
Notion of Universal Sensibility 461
His Imagination and Eloquence 461
His Works Published by Admai 462
Basson 463
Berigard 463
Magnen 463
Paracelsists 463
And Theosophists 463
Fludd 464
Jacob Behmen 464
Lord Herbert de Veritate 464
His Axioms 465
Conditions of Truth 465
Instinctive Truths 466
Internal Perceptions 466
Five Notions of Natural Religion 466
Remarks of Gassendi on Herbert 467
Gassendi’s Defence of Epicurus 468
His chief Works after 1650 468
Preparation for the Philosophy of Lord Bacon 468
His Plan of Philosophy 468
Time of its Conception 469
Instauratio Magna 470
First Part—Partitiones Scientiarum 470
Second Part—Novum Organum 470
Third Part—Natural History 470
Fourth Part—Scala Intellectûs 471
Fifth Part—Anticipationes Philosophiæ 471
Sixth Part—Philosophia Secunda 471
Course of studying Lord Bacon 472
Nature of the Baconian Induction 472
His Dislike of Aristotle 474
His Method much required 474
Its Objects 474
Sketch of the Treatise De Augmentis 474
History 474
Poetry 475
Fine Passage on Poetry 475
Natural Theology and Metaphysics 475
Form of Bodies might sometimes be inquired into 475
Final Causes too much slighted 476
Man not included by him in Physics 476
Man—in Body and Mind 476
Logic 476
Extent given it by Bacon 476
Grammar and Rhetoric 477
Ethics 477
Politics 477
Theology 478
Desiderata enumerated by him 478
Novum Organum—First Book 478
Fallacies—Idola 478
Confounded with Idols 478
Second Book of Novum Organum 479
Confidence of Bacon 479
Almost justified of late 480
But should be kept within Bounds 481
Limits to our Knowledge by Sense 481
Inductive Logic—whether confined to Physics 481
Baconian Philosophy built on Observation and Experiment 482
Advantages of the latter 482
Sometimes applicable to Philosophy of Human Mind 483
Less so to Politics and Morals 483
Induction less conclusive on these Subjects 483
Reasons for this Difference 484
Considerations on the other Side 484
Result of the whole 485
Bacon’s Aptitude for Moral Subjects 486
Comparison of Bacon and Galileo 487
His Prejudice against Mathematics 488
Bacon’s Excess of Wit 488
Fame of Bacon on the Continent 489
Early Life of Descartes 491
His beginning to philosophise 491
He retires to Holland 491
His Publications 492
He begins by doubting all 492
His First Step in Knowledge 492
His Mind not Sceptical 493
He arrives at more Certainty 493
His Proof of a Deity 493
Another Proof of it 494
His Deductions from this 494
Primary and Secondary Qualities 495
Objections made to his Meditations 495
Theory of Memory and Imagination 496
Seat of Soul in Pineal Gland 497
Gassendi’s Attacks on the Meditations 497
Superiority of Descartes 497
Stewart’s Remarks on Descartes 498
Paradoxes of Descartes 499
His Just Notions and Definitions 500
His Notion of Substances 501
Not Quite Correct 501
His Notions of Intuitive Truth 501
Treatise on Art of Logic 502
Merits of his Writings 502
His Notions of Free will 502
Fame of his System, and Attacks upon it 503
Controversy with Voet 503
Charges of Plagiarism 504
Recent Increase of his Fame 505
Metaphysical Treatises of Hobbes 505
His Theory of Sensation 506
Coincident with Descartes 506
Imagination and Memory 506
Discourse or Train of Imagination 507
Experience 507
Unconceivableness of Infinity 507
Origin of Language 508
His Political Theory interferes 508
Necessity of Speech exaggerated 509
Use of Names 509
Names Universal not Realities 509
How imposed 510
The Subject continued 510
Names differently imposed 511
Knowledge 511
Reasoning 512
False Reasoning 512
Its frequency 513
Knowledge of Fact not derived from Reasoning 514
Belief 514
Chart of Science 515
Analysis of Passions 515
Good and Evil relative Terms 515
His Paradoxes 515
His Notion of Love 516
Curiosity 516
Difference of Intellectual Capacities 516
Wit and Fancy 517
Differences in the Passions 517
Madness 517
Unmeaning Language 517
Manners 517
Ignorances and Prejudice 518
His Theory of Religion 518
Its supposed Sources 518
Casuistical Writers 521
Importance of Confession 521
Necessity of Rules for the Confessor 521
Increase of Casuistical Literature 521
Distinction of subjective and objective Morality 522
Directory Office of the Confessor 522
Difficulties of Casuistry 522
Strict and Lax Schemes of it 523
Convenience of the latter 523
Favoured by the Jesuits 523
The Causes of this 523
Extravagance of the strict Casuists 524
Opposite Faults of Jesuits 524
Suarez, De Legibus 524
Titles of his Ten Books 524
Heads of the Second Book 525
Character of such Scholastic Treatises 525
Quotations of Suarez 525
His Definition of Eternal Law 526
Whether God is a Legislator 526
Whether God could permit or commend wrong Actions 527
English Casuists—Perkins—Hall 527
Selden, De Jure Naturali Juxta Hebræos 528
Jewish Theory of Natural Law 528
Seven Precepts of the Sons of Noah 528
Character of Selden’s Work 528
Grotius and Hobbes 528
Charron on Wisdom 529
La Mothe le Vayer—his Dialogues 529
Bacon’s Essays 529
Their Excellence 530
Feltham’s Resolves 530
Browne’s Regligio Medici 531
Selden’s Table Talk 532
Osborn’s Advice to his Son 532
John Valentine Andrax 532
Abandonment of Anti-Monarchical Theories 533
Political Literature becomes historical 533
Bellenden De Statu 534
Campanella’s Politics 534
La Mothe le Vayer 534
Naude’s Coups d’Etat 534
Patriarchal Theory of Government 534
Refuted by Suarez 535
His Opinion of Law 535
Bacon 536
Political Economy 536
Serra on the Means of obtaining Money without Mines 537
His Causes of Wealth 537
His Praise of Venice 537
Low Rate of Exchange not essential to wealth 587
Hobbes.—His Political Works 538
Analysis of his Three Treatises 538
Civil Jurists of this period 543
Suarez on Laws 544
Grotius—De Jure Belli et Pacis 544
Success of this Work 544
Its Originality 545
Its Motive and Object 545
His Authorities 545
Foundation of Natural Law 546
Positive Law 546
Perfect and Imperfect Rights 546
Lawful Cases of War 546
Resistance by Subjects unlawful 547
All Men naturally have Right of War 547
Right of Self-Defence 548
Its Origin and Limitations 548
Right of Occupancy 549
Relinquishment of it 549
Right over Persons—By Generation 549
By Consent 549
In Marriage 549
In Commonwealths 549
Right of Alienating Subjects 549
Alienation by Testament 550
Rights of Property by Positive Law 550
Extinction of Rights 550
Some Casuistical Questions 550
Promises 550
Contracts 551
Considered ethically 551
Promissory Oaths 552
Engagements of Kings towards Subjects 552
Public Treaties 552
Their Interpretation 553
Obligation to repair Injury 553
Rights by Law of Nations 554
Those of Ambassadors 554
Right of Sepulture 554
Punishments 554
Their Responsibility 555
Insufficient Causes of War 556
Duty of avoiding it 556
And Expediency 556
War for the sake of other Subjects 556
Allies 556
Strangers 556
None to Serve in an Unjust War 556
Rights in War 557
Use of Deceit 557
Rules and Customs of Nations 557
Reprisals 557
Declarations of War 557
Rights by law of nations over Enemies 558
Prisoners become Slaves 558
Rights of Postliminium 558
Moral Limitation of Rights in War 558
Moderation required as to spoil 559
And as to Prisoners 559
Also in Conquest 559
And in Restitution to right Owners 559
Promises to Enemies and Pirates 559
Treaties concluded by competent Authority 560
Matters relating to them 561
Truces and Conventions 561
Those of Private persons 561
Objections to Grotius made by Paley unreasonable 561
Reply of Mackintosh 561
Censures of Stewart 562
Answer to them 562
Grotius vindicated against Rousseau 565
His Arrangement 565
His Defects 565
Low Estimation of the Seicentisti 566
Not quite so great as formerly 566
Praise of them by Rubbi 566
Also by Salfi 566
Adone of Marini 567
Its Character 567
And Popularity 567
Secchia Rapita of Tassoni 568
Chiabrera 569
His Followers 569
The Styles of Spanish Poetry 570
The Romances 570
The Brothers Argensola 570
Villegas 571
Quevedo 571
Defects of Taste in Spanish Verse 571
Pedantry and far-fetched Allusions 572
Gongora 572
The Schools formed by him 573
Malherbe 573
Criticisms upon his Poetry 574
Satires of Regnier 574
Racan—Maynard 574
Voiture 574
Sarrasin 575
Low state of German Literature 575
Literary Societies 575
Opitz 575
His Followers 576
Dutch Poetry 576
Spiegel 576
Hooft-Cats-Vondel 577
Danish Poetry 577
English Poets numerous in this age 577
Phineas Fletcher 577
Giles Fletcher 578
Philosophical Poetry 578
Lord Brooke 578
Denham’s Cooper’s Hill 579
Poets called Metaphysical 579
Donne 580
Crashaw 580
Cowley 580
Johnson’s Character of him 580
Narrative Poets—Daniel 580
Drayton’s Polyolbion 581
Browne’s Britannia’s Pastorals 581
Sir John Beaumont 582
Davenant’s Gondibert 582
Sonnets of Shakspeare 582
The person whom they address 583
Sonnets of Drummond and others 584
Carew 584
Ben Jonson 585
Wither 585
Habington 585
Earl of Pembroke 585
Suckling 586
Lovelace 586
Herrick 586
Milton 586
His Comus 586
Lycidas 587
Allegro and Penseroso 587
Ode on the Nativity 588
His Sonnets 588
Anonymous Poetry 588
Latin Poets of France 588
In Germany and Italy 588
In Holland—Heinsius 589
Casimir Sarbievius 589
Barlæus 589
Balde—Greek Poems of Heinsius 590
Latin Poets of Scotland—Jonston’s Psalms 590
Owen’s Epigrams 590
Alabaster’s Roxana 590
May’s Supplement to Lucan 590
Milton’s Latin Poems 591
Decline of the Italian Theatre 591
Filli de Sciro 592
Translations of Spanish Dramas 592
Extemporaneous Comedy 593
Spanish Stage 593
Calderon—Number of his Pieces 593
His Comedies 593
La Vida es Sueno 594
A Secreto agravio secreta vengança 595
Style of Calderon 595
His Merits sometimes overrated 596
Plays of Hardy 596
The Cid 597
Style of Corneille 598
Les Horaces 598
Cimia 598
Polyeucte 599
Rodogune 599
Pompey 599
Heraclius 599
Nicomède 600
Faults and Beauties of Corneille 600
Le Menteur 600
Other French Tragedies 600
Wenceslas of Rotron 600
Popularity of the Stage under Elizabeth 601
Number of Theatres 601
Encouraged by James 601
General Taste for the Stage 601
Theatres closed by the Parliament 602
Shakspeare’s Twelfth Night 602
Merry Wives of Windsor 603
Measure for Measure 604
Lear 604
Timon of Athens 604
Pericles 605
His Roman Tragedies—Julius Cæsar 606
Antony and Cleopatra 606
Coriolanus 606
His Retirement and Death 607
Greatness of his Genius 607
His Judgment 607
His Obscurity 608
His Popularity 608
Critics on Shakspeare 609
Ben Jonson 609
The Alchemist 609
Volpone, or The Fox 610
The Silent Woman 610
Sad Shepherd 611
Beaumont and Fletcher 611
Corrupt State of their Text 611
The Maid’s Tragedy 611
Philaster 612
King and no King 613
The Elder Brother 613
The Spanish Curate 613
The Custom of the Country 613
The Loyal Subject 613
Beggar’s Bush 613
The Scornful Lady 614
Valentinian 614
The Two Noble Kinsmen 615
The Faithful Shepherdess 615
Rule a Wife, and have a Wife 616
Some other Plays 616
Origin of Fletcher’s Plays 616
Defects of their plots 616
Their Sentiments and Style Dramatic 617
Their Characters 617
Their Tragedies 617
Inferior to their Comedies 618
Their Female Characters 618
Massinger—Nature of his Dramas 619
His Delineations of Character 619
His Subjects 619
Beauty of His Style 620
Inferiority of his Comic Powers 620
Some of his Tragedies particularized 620
And of his other Plays 620
Ford 621
Shirley 621
Heywood 622
Webster 622
His Duchess of Malfy 622
Vittoria Corombona 622
Decline of Taste in Italy 623
Style of Galileo 624
Bentivoglio 624
Boccalini’s News from Parnassus 624
His Pietra del Paragone 625
Terrante Pallavicino 625
Dictionary Delia Crusca 625
Grammatical Works—Buonmattei—Bartoli 626
Tassoni’s Remarks on Petrarch 626
Galileo’s Remarks on Tasso 626
Sforza Pallavicino 626
And other Critical Writers 626
Prolusiones of Strada 627
Spanish Prose—Gracian 627
French Prose—Du Vair 627
Balzac 628
Character of his Writings 628
His Letters 628
Voiture—Hotel Rambouillet 629
Establishment of French Academy 630
Its objects and Constitution 630
It publishes a Critique on the Cid 631
Vaugelas’s Remarks on the French Language 631
La Mothe le Vayer 632
Legal Speeches of Patru 632
And of Le Maistre 632
Improvement in English Style 633
Earl of Essex 633
Knolles’s History of the Turks 634
Raleigh’s History of the World 635
Daniel’s History of England 635
Bacon 635
Milton 636
Clarendon 636
The Icon Basilice 636
Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy 637
Earle’s Characters 637
Overbury’s Characters 637
Jonson’s Discoveries 637
Publication of Don Quixote 638
Its Reputation 638
New Views of its Design 638
Probably erroneous 638
Difference between the two Parts 639
Excellence of this Romance 639
Minor Novels of Cervantes 639
Other Novels—Spanish 639
And Italian 639
French Romances—Astrée 639
Heroic Romances—Gomberville 640
Calprenède 640
Scuderi 641
Argenis of Barclay 641
His Euphormis 643
Campanella’s City of the Sun 643
Few Books of Fiction in England 643
Mundus Alter et Idem of Hall 644
Godwin’s Journey to the Moon 644
Howell’s Dodona’s Grove 644
Adventures of Baron de Fænesle 644
State of Science in 16th Century 645
Tediousness of Calculations 645
Napier’s Invention of Logarithms 645
Their Nature 645
Property of Numbers discovered by Stifelius 645
Extended to Magnitudes 646
By Napier 646
Tables of Napier and Briggs 646
Kepler’s New Geometry 647
Its Difference from the Ancient 647
Adopted by Galileo 648
Extended by Cavalieri 648
Applied to the Ratios of Solids 648
Problem of the Cycloid 648
Progress of Algebra 649
Briggs—Girard 649
Harriott 649
Descartes 650
His Application of Algebra to Curves 650
Suspected Plagiarism from Harriot 650
Fermat 651
Algebraic Geometry not successful at first 652
Astronomy—Kepler 652
Conjectures as to Comets 652
Galileo’s Discovery of Jupiter’s Satellites 653
Other Discoveries by him 653
Spots of the Sun discovered 653
Copernican System held by Galileo 654
His Dialogues, and Persecution 654
Descartes alarmed by this 655
Progress of Copernican System 655
Descartes denies General Gravitation 655
Cartesian Theory of the World 655
Transits of Mercury and Venus 656
Laws of Mechanics 656
Statics of Galileo 657
His Dynamics 657
Mechanics of Descartes 658
Law of Motion laid down by Descartes 658
Also those of Compound Forces 659
Other Discoveries in Mechanics 659
In Hydrostatics and Pneumatics 659
Optics—Discoveries of Kepler 660
Invention of the Telescope 660
Of the Microscope 660
Antonio de Dominis 660
Dioptrics of Descartes—Law of Refraction 661
Disputed by Fermat 661
Curves of Descartes 661
Theory of the Rainbow 661
Aldrovandus 662
Clusius 662
Rio and Marcgraf 662
Jonston 662
Fabricius on the Language of Brutes 663
Botany—Columna 664
John and Gaspar Bauhin 664
Parkinson 664
Valves of the Veins discovered 665
Theory of the Blood’s Circulation 665
Sometimes ascribed to Servetus 665
To Columbus 666
And to Cæsalpin 666
Generally unknown before Harvey 667
His Discovery 667
Unjustly doubted to be Original 667
Harvey’s Treatise on Generation 668
Lacteals discovered by Asellius 668
Optical Discoveries of Scheiner 669
Medicine—Van Helmont 669
Diffusion of Hebrew 669
Language not studied in the best method 669
The Buxtorfs 670
Vowel Points rejected by Cappel 670
Hebrew Scholars 671
Chaldee and Syriac 671
Arabic 671
Erpenius 671
Golius 671
Other Eastern Languages 672
Purchas’s Pilgrim 672
Olearius and Pietro della Valle 672
Lexicon of Ferrari 672
Maps of Blaew 672
Davila and Bentivoglio 673
Mendoza’s Wars of Granada 673
Mezeray 673
English Historians 673
English Histories 673
Universities 673
Bodleian Library founded 674
Casaubon’s Account of Oxford 674
Catalogue of Bodleian Library 674
Continental Libraries 675
Italian Academies 675
The Lincei 675
Prejudice for Antiquity diminished 676
Browne’s Vulgar Errors 677
Life and Character of Peiresc 677
James Frederic Gronovius 678
James Gronovius 679
Grævius 679
Isaac Vossius 679
Decline of German Learning 679
Spanheim 679
Jesuit Colleges in France 679
Port-Royal Writers—Lancelot 679
Latin Writers—Perizonius 680
Delphin Editions 680
Le Fevre and the Daciers 680
Henry Valois—Complaints of Decay of Learning 680
English Learning—Duport 681
Greek not much studied 681
Gataker’s Cinnus and Antoninus 681
Stanley’s Æschylus 682
Other English Philologers 682
Bentley 682
His Epistle to Mill 682
Dissertation on Phalaris 682
Disadvantages of Scholars in that Age 683
Thesauri of Grævius and of Gronovius 683
Fabretti 684
Numismatics, Spanheim—Vaillant 684
Chronology—Usher 684
Pezron 685
Marsham 685
Decline of Papal Influence 685
Dispute of Louis XIV. with Innocent XI. 686
Four Articles of 1682 686
Dupin on the ancient Discipline 686
Dupin’s Ecclesiastical Library 687
Fleury’s Ecclesiastical History 687
His Dissertations 687
Protestant Controversy in France 688
Bossuet’s Exposition of Catholic Faith 688
His Conference with Claude 688
Correspondence with Molanus and Leibnitz 689
His Variations of Protestant Churches 690
Anglican Writings against Popery 690
Taylor’s Dissuasive 690
Barrow—Stillingfleet 690
Jansenius 691
Condemnation of his Augustinus in France 691
And at Rome 691
The Jansenists take a Distinction 692
And are Persecuted 692
Progress of Arminianism 692
Courcelles 693
Limborch 693
Le Clerc 693
Sancroft’s Fur Prædestinatus 693
Arminianism in England 694
Bull’s Harmonia Apostolica 694
Hammond—Locke—Wilkins 694
Socinians in England 695
Bull’s Defensio Fidei Nicenæ 695
Not Satisfactory to all 695
Mystics 696
Fenelon 696
Change in the Character of Theological Literature 696
Freedom of many Writings 696
Thoughts of Pascal 697
Vindications of Christianity 699
Progress of Tolerant Principles 700
Bayle’s Philosophical Commentary 700
Locke’s Letter on Toleration 700
French Sermons 701
Bourdaloue 701
Compared with Bossuet 702
Funeral Discourses of Bossuet 702
Fléchier 703
English Sermons—Barrow 703
South 704
Tillotson 704
Expository Theology 704
Pearson on the Creed 704
Simon’s Critical Histories 705
Aristotelian Metaphysics 705
Their Decline. Thomas White 706
Logic 706
Stanley’s History of Philosophy 707
Gale’s Court of Gentiles 707
Cudworth’s Intellectual System 707
Its object 708
Sketch of it 708
His plastic nature 708
His account of old Philosophy 708
His Arguments against Atheism 709
More 709
Gassendi 710
His Logic 710
His Theory of Ideas 710
And of the Nature of the Soul 710
Distinguishes Ideas of Reflection 711
Also Intellect from Imagination 711
His Philosophy misunderstood by Stewart 712
Bernier’s Epitome of Gassendi 713
Process of Cartesian Philosophy 713
La Forge—Regis 714
Huet’s Censure of Cartesianism 715
Port-Royal Logic 716
Malebranche 717
His Style 717
Sketch of his Theory 717
Character of Malebranche 724
Compared with Pascal 724
Arnauld on True and False ideas 725
Norris 725
Pascal 725
Spinosa’s Ethics 726
Its general Originality 726
View of his Metaphysical Theory 727
Spinosa’s Theory of action and Passion 731
Character of Spinosism 732
Glanvil’s Scepsis Scientifica 733
His Plus Ultra 734
Dalgarno 735
Wilkins 736
Locke on Human Understanding 736
Its merits 736
Its Defects 737
Origin of Ideas according to Locke 737
Vague Use of the Word Idea 738
An Error as to Geometrical Figure 739
His Notions as to the Soul 740
And its Immateriality 740
His Love of Truth and Originality 741
Defended in two cases 742
His View of Lunatic Ideas 742
General Praise 743
Locke’s Conduct of Understanding 743
Casuistry of the Jesuits 744
Pascal’s Provincial Letters 744
Their Truth questioned by some 744
Taylor’s Ductor Dubitantium 745
Its Character and Defects 745
Cudworth’s immutable Morality 745
Nicole—La Placette 746
Other Writers 746
Moral System of Spinosa 746
Cumberland’s De Legibus Naturæ 747
Analysis of Prolegomena 748
His Theory expanded afterwards 749
Remarks on Cumberland’s Theory 752
Puffendorf’s Law of Nature and Nations 753
Analysis of this Work 754
Puffendorf and Paley compared 757
Rochefoucault 757
La Bruyère 758
Education—Milton’s Tractrate 758
Locke on Education—Its merits 759
And Defects 759
Fenelon on Female Education 761
Puffendorf’s Theory of Politics 762
Politics of Spinosa 764
His Theory of a Monarchy 766
Amelot de la Houssaye 766
Harrington’s Oceana766
Patriarcha of Filmer767
Sydney’s Discourses on Government767
Locke on Government 768
Observations on this Treatise771
Avis auz Refugiéz, perhaps by Bayle772
Political Economist’s 772
Mun on Foreign Trade 773
Child on Trade 773
Locke on the Coin 773
Statistical Tracts 774
Works of Leibnitz on Roman Law 775
Civil Jurists—Godefroy—Domat 775
Noodt of Usury 776
Law of Nations—Puffendorf 776
Improved Tone of Italian Poetry 776
Filicaja 777
Guidi 777
Menzini 778
Salvator Rosa—Redi 778
Other Poets778
Christina’s Patronage of Letters 778
Society of Arcadians 778
La Fontaine779
Character of his Fables 779
Boileau: His Epistles 780
His Art of Poetry 780
Comparison with Horace 780
The Lutrin780
General Character of his Poetry 780
Lyric Poetry lighter than before 781
Benserade 781
Chaulieu 781
Pastoral Poetry 781
Segrais 781
Deshouliéres 781
Fontenelle 782
Bad Epic Poems 782
German Poetry 782
Waller 782
Butler’s Hudibras 783
Paradise Lost—Choice of Subject 783
Open to some Difficulties783
Its Arrangement 783
Characters of Adam and Eve 784
He owes less to Homer than the Tragedians 784
Compared with Dante784
Elevation of his Style 785
His Blindness 786
His Passion for Music786
Faults in Paradise Lost786
Its Progress to Fame786
Paradise Regained787
Samson Agonistes787
Dryden—His earlier Poems 787
Absalom and Achitophel 788
Mac Flecknoe788
The Hind and Panther789
Its Singular Fable 789
Its Reasoning 789
The Fables 789
His Odes—Alexander’s Feast 790
His Translation of Virgil 790
Decline of Poetry from the Restoration 790
Some Minor Poets enumerated 790
Latin Poets of Italy 791
Ceva 791
Sergardi 791
Of France—Quillet791
Menage 792
Rapin on Gardens 792
Latin Poetry in England 793
Italian and Spanish Drama793
Racine’s first Tragedies 793
Andromaque 794
Britannicus 795
Berenice 795
Bajazet 795
Mithridate 796
Iphigénie 796
Phèdre 797
Racine’s Female Characters798
Racine compared with Corneille798
Beauty of his Style 798
Thomas Corneille—His Ariane799
Manlius of La Fosse 799
L’Avare 799
L’Ecole des Femmes 800
Le Misanthrope800
Les Femmes Savantes 801
Bourgeois Gentilhomme—George Dandin801
Character of Molière 802
Les Plaideurs of Racine 802
Regnard—Le Joueur 802
His Other Plays 803
Quinault—Boursault 803
Dancourt 803
Brueys 804
Operas of Quinault804
Revival of the English Theatre804
Change of Public Taste804
Its Causes 805
Heroic Tragedies of Dryden805
His later Tragedies 805
Don Sebastian 806
Spanish Friar 806
Otway 806
Southern 807
Lee 807
Congreve 807
Comedies of Charles II.’s Reign 807
Wycherley 808
Improvement after the Revolution 808
Congreve 808
Love for Love 808
His other Comedies 808
Farquhar—Vanbrugh 809
Low State of Literature in Italy 809
Crescimbeni 810
Age of Louis XIV. in France 810
Fontenelle—his Character 810
His Dialogues of the Dead 811
Those of Fenelon 811
Fontenelle’s Plurality of Worlds 811
His History of Oracles 811
St. Evremond 812
Madame de Sevigné 812
The French Academy 812
French Grammars 813
Bouhour’s Entretiens d’Ariste et d’Eugène 813
Attacked by Barbier d’Ancour 814
La Manière de Bien Penser 815
Rapin’s Reflections on Eloquence and Poetry 815
His Parallel’s of Great Men 815
Bossu on Epic Poetry 816
Fontenelle’s Critical Writings 816
Preference of French Language to Latin 816
General Superiority of Ancients disputed 816
Charles Perrault 816
Fontenelle 817
Boileau’s Defence of Antiquity 817
First Reviews—Journal des Sçavans 817
Reviews Established by Bayle 818
Reviews Established by Le Clerc 818
Leipsic Acts 819
Bayle’s Thoughts on the Comet 819
His Dictionary 819
Baillet—Morhof 820
The Ana 820
English Style in this Period 820
Hobbes 821
Cowley 821
Evelyn 821
Dryden 821
His Essay on Dramatic Poesy 822
Improvements in his Style 823
His Critical Character 823
Rymer on Tragedy 823
Sir William Temple’s Essays 824
Style of Locke 824
Sir George Mackenzie’s Essays 824
Andrew Fletcher 824
Walton’s Complete Angler 824
Wilkins’ New World 824
Antiquity defended by Temple 825
Wotton’s Reflection’s 825
Quevedo’s Visions 825
French Heroic Romances 826
Novels of Madame La Fayette 826
Scarron’s Roman Comique 826
Cyrano de Bergerac 827
Segrais 827
Perrault 827
Hamilton 827
Télémaque of Fenelon 827
Deficiency of English Romances 828
Pilgrim’s Progress 828
Turkish Spy 829
Chiefly of English Origin 830
Swift’s Tale of a Tub 831
Reasons for omitting Mathematics 831
Academy del Cimento 831
Royal Society 832
Academy of Sciences at Paris 832
State of Chemistry 832
Becker 833
Boyle 833
His Metaphysical Works 833
Extract from one of them 833
His Merits in Physics and Chemistry 834
General Character of Boyle 834
Of Hooke and Others 834
Lemery 835
Slow Progress of Zoology 835
Before Ray 835
His Synopsis of Quadrupeds 835
Merits of this Work 835
Redi 836
Swammerdam 836
Lister 836
Comparative Anatomy 836
Botany 837
Jungius 837
Morison 837
Ray 837
Rivinus 838
Tournefort 838
Vegetable Physiology 839
Grew 839
His Anatomy of Plants 840
He discovers the Sexual System 840
Camerarius confirms this 840
Predecessors of Grew 840
Malpighi 840
Early Notions of Geology 840
Burnet’s Theory of Earth 840
Other Geologists 841
Protogæa of Leibnitz 841
Circulation of Blood Established 842
Willis—Vieussens 842
Malpighi 842
Other Anatomists 842
Medical Theories 843
Polyglott of Walton 843
Hottinger 844
Spencer 844
Bochart 844
Pococke 844
D’Herbelot 844
Hyde 844
Maps of the Sansons 844
De Lisle’s Map of the World 845
Voyages and Travels 845
Historians 845
De Solis 845
Memoirs of De Retz 845
Bossuet on Universal History 846
English Historical Works 846
Burnet 846
General Character of 17th Century 846
Conclusion 847

[Pg 409]




Sect. I.

Decline of merely philological, especially Greek, Learning—Casaubon—Viger—Editions of Greek and Latin Classics—Critical Writings—Latin Style—Scioppius—Vossius—Successive Periods of modern Latinists.

Learning of 17th century less philological. 1. In every period of literary history, if we should listen to the complaints of contemporary writers, all learning and science have been verging towards extinction. None remain of the mighty, the race of giants is no more; the lights that have been extinguished burn in no other hands; we have fallen on evil days, when letters are no longer in honour with the world, nor are they cultivated by those who deserve to be honoured. Such are the lamentations of many throughout the whole sixteenth century; and with such do Scaliger and Casaubon greet that which opened upon them. Yet the first part of the seventeenth century may be reckoned eminently the learned age; rather however in a more critical and exact erudition with respect to historical fact, than in what is strictly called philology, as to which we cannot, on the whole, rank this so high as the preceding period. Neither Italy nor Germany maintained its reputation, which, as it has been already mentioned, had begun to wane towards the close of the sixteenth century. The same causes were b work, the same preference of studies very foreign to polite letters, metaphysical philosophy, dogmatic theology, patristic or mediæval ecclesiastical history, or, in some countries, the physical sciences, which were rapidly gaining ground. And to these we must add a prevalence of bad taste, even among those who had some pretensions to be reckoned scholars. Lipsius had set an example of abandoning the purest models; and his followers had less sense and taste than himself. They sought obsolete terms from Pacuvius and Plautus, they affected pointed sentences, and a studied conciseness of period, which made their style altogether dry and jejune.[1] The universities, and even the gymnasia or schools of Germany, grew negligent of all the beauties of language. Latin itself was acquired in a slovenly manner, by help of modern books, which spared the pains of acquiring any subsidiary knowledge of antiquity. And this neglect of the ancient writers in education caused even eminent scholars to write ill, as we perceive in the supplements of Freinshemius to Curtius and Livy.[2]

[1] Biogr. Univ. art. Grævius. Eichhorn, iii. 1. 320.

[2] Eichhorn, 326.

Popularity of Comenius. 2. A sufficient evidence of this is found in the vast popularity which the writings of Comenius acquired in Germany. This author, a man of much industry, some ingenuity, and [Pg 410] little judgment, made himself a colossal reputation by his Orbis Sensualium Pictus, and still more by his Janua Linguarum Reserata, the latter published in 1631. This contains, in 100 chapters subdivided into 1000 paragraphs, more than 9300 Latin words, exclusive, of course, of such as recur. The originality of its method consists in weaving all useful words into a series of paragraphs, so that they may be learned in a short time, without the tediousness of a nomenclature. It was also intended to blend a knowledge of things with one of words.[3] The Orbis Sensualium Pictus has the same end. This is what has since been so continually attempted in books of education, that some may be surprised to hear of its originality. No one, however, before Comenius seems to have thought of this method. It must, unquestionably, have appeared to facilitate the early acquirement of knowledge in a very great degree; and even with reference to language, if a compendious mode of getting at Latin words were the object, the works of Comenius would answer the purpose beyond those of any classical author. In a country where Latin was a living and spoken tongue, as was in some measure the case with Germany, no great strictness in excluding barbarous phrases is either practicable or expedient. But, according to the received principles of philological literature, they are such books as every teacher would keep out of the hands of his pupils. They were, nevertheless, reprinted and translated in many countries; and obtained a general reception, especially in the German empire, and similarly circumstanced kingdoms.[4]

[3] Biogr. Univ.

[4] Baillet, Critiques Grammairiens, part of the Jugemens des Sçavans (whom I cite by the number or paragraph, on account of the different editions), No. 634, quotes Lancelot’s remark on the Janua Linguarum, that it requires a better memory than most boys possess to master it, and that commonly the first part is forgotten before the last is learned. It excites disgust in the scholar, because he is always in a new country, every chapter being filled with words he has not seen before; and the successive parts of the book have no connection with one another.

Morhof, though he would absolutely banish the Janua Linguarum from all schools where good Latinity is required, seems to think rather better of the Orbis Sensualium Pictus, as in itself a happy idea, though the delineations are indifferent, and the whole not so well arranged as it might be. Polyhistor. lib. ii. c. 4.

Decline of Greek learning. 3. The Greek language, meantime, was thought unnecessary, and few, comparatively speaking, continued to prosecute its study. In Italy it can merely be said that there were still professors of it in the universities; but no one Hellenist distinguishes this century. Most of those who published editions of Greek authors in Germany, and they were far from numerous, had been formed in the last age. The decline was progressive; few scholars remained after 1620, and a long blank ensued, until Fabricius and Kuster restored the study of Greek near the end of the century. Even in France and Holland, where many were abundantly learned, and some, as we shall see, accomplished philologers, the Greek language seems to have been either less regarded, or at least less promoted by eminent scholars, than in the preceding century.[5]

[5] Scaliger, even in 1602, says: Quis hodie nescit Græcè? sed quis est doctus Græcè? Non dubito esse aliquot, sed paucos, et quos non novi ne de nomine quidem. Te unum novi et memoriæ avorum et nostri sæculi Græcè doctissimum, qui unus in Græcis præstiteris, quæ post renatas apud nos bonas literas omnes nunquam præstare potuissent. He goes on to speak of himself, as standing next to Casaubon, and the only competent judge of the extent of his learning; qui de præstantia doctrinæ tuæ certo judicare possit, ego aut unicus sum, aut qui cæteros hac in re magno intervallo vinco. Scal. Epist. 72.

Casaubon. 4. Casaubon now stood on the pinnacle of critical renown. His Persius in 1605, and his Polybius in 1609, were testimonies to his continued industry in this province.[6] But with this latter edition the philological labours of Casaubon came to an end. In 1610 he accepted the invitation of James I., who bestowed upon him, though a layman, a prebend in the church of Canterbury, and, as some, perhaps erroneously, have said, another in that of Westminster.[7] He died in England within four years after, having consumed the intermediate time in the defence of his royal patron against the Jesuits, and in writing Animadversions on the Annals of Baronius; [Pg 411] works ill-suited to his peculiar talent, and in the latter of which he is said to have had but little success. He laments, in his epistles, the want of leisure for completing his labours on Polybius; the king had no taste but for theology, and he found no library in which he could pursue his studies.[8] “I gave up,” he says, “at last, with great sorrow, my commentary on Polybius, to which I had devoted so much time, but the good king must be obeyed.”[9] Casaubon was the last of the great scholars of the sixteenth century. Joseph Scaliger, who, especially in his recorded conversation, was very sparing of praise, says expressly, “Casaubon is the most learned man now living.” It is not impossible that he meant to except himself; which would by no means be unjust, if we take in the whole range of erudition; but in the exactly critical knowledge of the Greek language, Casaubon had not even a rival in Scaliger.

[6] The translation that Casaubon has here given of Polybius has generally passed for excellent, though some have thought him a better scholar in Greek than in Latin, and consequently not always able to render the sense as well as he conceived it. Baillet, n. 902. Schweighauser praises the annotations, but not without criticism, for which a later editor generally finds room in an earlier. Reiske, he says, had pointed out many errors.

[7] The latter is contradicted by Beloe, Anecdotes of Literature, vol. v., p. 126, on the authority of Le Neve’s Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ.

[8] Jacent curæ Polybianæ, et fortasse æternum jacebunt, neque enim satis commodus ad illa studia est locus. Epist. 705. Plura adderem, nisi omni librorum præsidio meorum deficerer. Quare etiam de commentariis Polybianis noli meminisse, quando rationes priorum meorum studiorum hoc iter mirificè conturbavit, ut vix sine suspirio ejus incepti possim meminisse, quod tot vigiliis mihi constitit. Sed neque adest mea bibliotheca, neque ea studia multum sunt ad gustum illius, cujus solius, quamdiu hic sum futurus, habenda mihi ratio. Ep. 704 (Feb. 1611). Rex optimus atque ευσεβεστατος rebus theologicis ita delectatur, ut aliis curis literariis non multum operæ impendat. Ep. 872. Ego quid hic agam, si cupis scire, hoc unum respondebo, omnia priora studia mea funditus interiisse. Nam maximus rex et liberalissimus unico genere literarum sic capitur, ut suum et suorum ingenia in illo detineat. Ep. 753.

[9] Decessi gemens a Polybiano commentario, quem tot laboribus concinnaveram; sed regi optimo parendum erat. Ep. 854. Feb. 1613.

Viger de Idiotismis. 5. A long period ensued, during which no very considerable progress was made in Greek literature. Few books occur before the year 1650 which have obtained a durable reputation. The best known, and, as I conceive, by far the best of a grammatical nature, is that of Viger de Idiotismis præcipuis Græcæ Linguæ, which Hoogeveen and Zeunius successively enlarged in the last century. Viger was a Jesuit of Rouen, and the first edition was in 1632. It contains, even as it came from the author, many valuable criticisms, and its usefulness to a Greek scholar is acknowledged. But, in order to determine the place of Viger among grammarians, we should ascertain by comparison with preceding works, especially the Thesaurus of Stephens, for how much he is indebted to their labours. He would probably, after all deductions, appear to merit great praise. His arrangement is more clear, and his knowledge of syntax more comprehensive, than that of Caninius or any other earlier writer; but his notions are not unfrequently imperfect or erroneous, as the succeeding editors have pointed out. In common with many of the older grammarians, he fancied a difference of sense between the two aorists, wherein even Zeunius has followed him.[10]

[10] An earlier treatise on Greek particles by Devarius, a Greek of the Ionian Islands, might have been mentioned in the last volume. It was republished by Reusmann, who calls Devarius, homo olim haud ignobilis, at hodie pæne neglectus. He is thought too subtle in grammar, but seems to have been an excellent scholar. I do not perceive that Viger has borrowed from him.

Weller’s Greek grammar. 6. In a much lower rank, we may perhaps next place Weller, author of a Greek grammar, published in 1638, of which its later editor, Fischer, says that it has always stood in high repute as a school-book, and been frequently reprinted; meaning, doubtless, in Germany. There is nothing striking in Weller’s grammar; it may deserve praise for clearness and brevity; but, in Vergara, Caninius, and Sylburgius, there is much more instruction for those who are not merely schoolboys. What is most remarkable is, that Weller claims as his own the reduction of the declensions to three, and of the conjugations to one; which, as has been seen in a former chapter,[11] is found in the grammar of Sylburgius, and is probably due to Ramus. This is rather a piece of effrontery, as he could scarcely have lighted by coincidence on both these innovations. Weller has given no syntax; what is added in Fischer’s edition is by Lambert Bos.

[11] Page 239.

Labbe and others. 7. Philip Labbe, a French Jesuit, was a laborious compiler, among whose numerous works not a few relate to the grammar of the Greek language. He had, says Niceron, a wonderful talent in multiplying title pages; we have fifteen or sixteen grammatical treatises from him, which might have been comprised in two or three ordinary volumes. Labbe’s Regulæ Accentuum, published in 1635, was once, I believe, of some repute; but he has little or nothing of his own.[12] The Greek grammars published in this age by Alexander [Pg 412] Scot and others are ill-digested, according to Lancelot, without order or principle, and full of useless and perplexing things;[13] and that of Vossius, in 1642, which is only an improved edition of that of Clenardus, appears to contain little which is not taken from others.[14] Erasmus Schmidt is said by Eichhorn to be author of a valuable work on Greek dialects;[15] George Pasor is better known by his writings on the Hellenistic dialect, or that of the Septuagint and New Testament. |Salmasius de Lingua Hellenistica.| Salmasius, in his Commentarius de Hellenistica, (Leyden, 1643), has gone very largely into this subject. This, he says, is a question lately agitated, whether there be a peculiar dialect of the Greek Scriptures; for, in the last age, the very name of Hellenistic was unknown to scholars. It is not above half a century old. It was supposed to be a Hebrew idiom in Greek words; which, as he argues elaborately and with great learning, is not sufficient to constitute a distinct dialect, none of the ancients having ever mentioned one by this name. This is evidently much of a verbal dispute; since no one would apply the word to the scriptural Greek, in the same sense that he does to the Doric and Attic. Salmasius lays down two essential characteristics of a dialect: one, that it should be spoken by people differing in locality; another, that it should be distinguishable by single words, not merely by idiom. A profusion of learning is scattered all round, but not pedantically or impertinently; and this seems a very useful book in Greek or Latin philology. He may perhaps be thought to underrate the peculiarities of language in the Old and New Testament, as if they were merely such as passed current among the contemporary Greeks. The second part of this Commentary relates to the Greek dialects generally, without reference to the Hellenistic. He denies the name to what is usually called the common dialect, spoken, or at least written, by the Greeks in general after the time of Alexander. This also is of course a question of words; perhaps Salmasius used a more convenient phraseology than what is often met with in grammarians.

[12] Niceron, vol. xxv.

[13] Baillet, n. 706.

[14] Id. n. 711.

[15] Geschichte der Cultur, iii. 325.

8. Editions of Greek classics are not so numerous as in the former period. The Pindar of Erasmus Schmidt, in 1614, and the Aristotle of Duval, in 1619, may be mentioned: the latter is still in request as a convenient and complete edition. Meursius was reckoned a good critical scholar, but his works as an editor are not very important. |Greek editions—Savile’s Chrysostom.| The chief monument of his philological erudition is the Lexicon Græco-Barbarum, a glossary of the Greek of the lower empire. But no edition of a Greek author published in the first part of the seventeenth century is superior, at least in magnificence, to that of Chrysostom by Sir Henry Savile. This came forth, in 1612, from a press established at Eton by himself, provost of that college. He had procured types and pressmen in Holland, and three years had been employed in printing the eight volumes of this great work; one, which both in splendour of execution, and in the erudition displayed in it by Savile, who had collected several manuscripts of Chrysostom, leaves immeasurably behind it every earlier production of the English press. The expense, which is said to have been eight thousand pounds, was wholly defrayed by himself, and the tardy sale of so voluminous a work could not have reimbursed the cost.[16] Another edition, in fact, by a Jesuit, Fronto Ducæus (Fronton le Duc), was published at Paris within two years afterwards, having the advantage of a Latin translation, which Savile had imprudently waived. It has even been imputed to Ducæus, that, having procured the sheets of Savile’s edition from the pressmen while it was under their hands, he printed his own without alteration. But this seems an apocryphal story.[17] Savile had the [Pg 413] assistance, in revising the text, of the most learned coadjutors he could find in England.

[16] Beloe’s Anecdotes of Literature, vol. v., p. 103. The copies sold for 9l. each; a sum equal to nearly 30l. at present, and from the relative wealth of the country, to considerably more. What wonder that the sale was slow? Fuller, however, tells us, that when he wrote, almost half a century afterwards, the book was become scarce. Chrysostomus, says Casaubon, a Savilio editur privata impensa, animo regio. Ep. 738 (apud Beloe). The principal assistants of Savile were, Matthew Bust, Thomas Allen, and especially Richard Montagu, afterwards celebrated in our ecclesiastical history as bishop of Chichester, who is said to have corrected the text before it went to the press. As this is the first work of learning, on a great scale, published in England, it deserves the particular commemoration of those to whom we owe it.

[17] It is told by Fuller, and I do not know that it has any independent confirmation. Savile himself says of Fronto Ducæus, “Vir doctissimus, et cui Chrysostomus noster plurimum debet.” Fuller, it may be observed, says that the Parisian edition followed Savile’s “in a few months,” whereas the time was two years; and, as Brunet (Manuel du Libraire) justly observes, there is no apparent necessity to suppose an unfair communication of the sheets, even if the text should be proved to be copied.

Greek learning in England. 9. A very few more Greek books were printed at Eton soon afterwards; and though that press soon ceased, some editions of Greek authors, generally for schools, appeared in England before 1650. One of these, the Poetæ Minores of Winterton, is best known, and has sometimes been reprinted; it does little credit to its original editor, the text being exceedingly corrupt, and the notes very trifling. The Greek language, however, was now much studied;[18] the age of James and Charles was truly learned; our writers are prodigal of an abundant erudition, which embraces a far wider range of authors than are now read; the philosophers of every class, the poets, the historians and orators of Greece, to whom few comparatively had paid regard in the days of Elizabeth, seem as familiar to the miscellaneous writers of her next successors, as the fathers of the church are to the theologians. A few, like Jeremy Taylor, are equally copious in their libations from both streams. But though thus deeply read in ancient learning, our old scholars were not very critical in philology.

[18] It might appear, at first sight, that Casaubon intended to send his son Meric to Holland, under the care of Heinsius, because he could not get a good classical education in England. Cupio in Græcis, Latinis, et Hebraicis literis ipsum serio exerceri. Hoc in Anglia posse fieri sperare non possumus: nam hic locupletissima sunt collegia, sed quorum ratio toto genere diversa est ab institutis omnium aliorum collegiorum. Ep. 962 (1614). But possibly he meant that, on account of his son’s foreign birth, he could not be admitted on the foundation of English colleges, though the words do not clearly express this. At the king’s command, however, Meric was sent to Oxford. One of Casaubon’s sons went to Eton school; literis dat operam in gymnasio Etoniensi. Ep. 737 (apud Beloe’s Anecdotes; I had overlooked the passage). Theological learning, in the reign of James, opposed polite letters and philology, Est in Anglia, says Casaubon, theologorum ingens copia; eo enim fere omnes studia sua referunt. Ep. 762. Venio ex Anglia (Grotius writes in 1613), literarum ibi tenuis est merces; theologi regnant, leguleii rem faciunt; unus ferme Casaubonus habet fortunam satis faventem, sed, ut ipse judicat, minus certam. Ne huic quidem locus fuisset in Anglia ut literatori, theologum induere debuit. Epist. Grot. p. 751.

Latin editions—Torrentius. 10. In Latin criticism, the pretensions of the seventeenth century are far more considerable than in Greek. The first remarkable edition, however, that of Horace by Torrentius, a Belgian ecclesiastic, though it appeared in 1602, being posthumous, belongs strictly to the preceding age. It has been said that Dacier borrowed much for his own notes from this editor; but Horace was so profusely illustrated in the sixteenth century, that little has been left for later critics, except to tamper, as they have largely done, with his text. This period is not generally conspicuous for editions of Latin authors; but some names of high repute in grammatical and critical lore belong to it.

Gruter. 11. Gruter, a native of Antwerp, who became a professor in several German universities, and finally in that of Heidelberg, might have been mentioned in our history of the sixteenth century, before the expiration of which some of his critical labours had been accomplished. Many more belong to the first twenty years of the present. No more diligent and indefatigable critic ever toiled in that quarry. His Suspiciones, an early work, in which he has explained and amended miscellaneous passages, his annotations on the Senecas, on Martial, on Statius, on the Roman historians, as well as another more celebrated compilation which we shall have soon to mention, bear witness to his immense industry. In Greek he did comparatively but little; yet he is counted among good scholars in that language. All others of his time, it has been said, appear mere drones in comparison with him.[19] Scaliger indeed, though on intimate terms with Gruter, in one of his usual fits of spleen, charges him with a tasteless indifference to the real merit of the writers whom he explained, one being as good as another for his purpose, which was only to produce a book.[20] In this art Gruter was so perfect, that he never failed to publish one every year, and sometimes every month.[21] His eulogists have given him credit for acuteness and judgment, and even for elegance and an agreeable variety; but he seems not to have preserved much repute except for his laborious erudition.

[19] Baillet, n. 483. Bayle. Niceron, vol. ix.

[20] Non curat utrum charta sit cacata, modo libros multos excudat. Scalig. secunda.

[21] Bayle, note i.

Heinsius. 12. Daniel Heinsius, conspicuous as secretary of the synod of Dort, and a Latin poet of distinguished name, was also among the first philologers of his age. Many editions of Greek and Latin writers, of annotations upon them, Theocritus, Hesiod, Maximus Tyrius, Aristotle, Horace, Terence, Silius, [Pg 414] Ovid, attest his critical skill. He is praised for a judicious reserve in criticism, avoiding the trifles by which many scholars had wearied their readers, and attending only to what really demanded the aid of a critic, as being corrupt or obscure. His learning was very extensive and profound, so that in the panegyrical tone of the times, he is set above all the living, and almost above all the dead.[22]

[22] Baillet, n. 517.

Grotius. 13. Grotius contributed much to ancient philology. His editions of Aratus, Stobæus, the fragments of the lost Greek dramas, Lucan and Tacitus are but a part of those which he published. In the power of illustrating a writer by parallel or resembling passages from others, however remote, his taste and fondness for poetry, as much as his vast erudition, have made him remarkable. In mere critical skill, he was not quite so great a master of the Greek as of the Latin language; nor was he equal to restoring the text of the dramatic poets.

Rutgersius, Reinesius, Barthius. 14. The Variæ Lectiones of Rutgersius, in 1618, whose premature death cut off a brilliant promise of erudition, are in six books, almost entirely devoted to emendation of the text, in such a miscellaneous and desultory series of criticisms, as the example of Turnebus and other scholars had rendered usual.[23] Reinesius, a Saxon physician, in 1640 put forth a book with the same title, a thick volume of about 700 pages, of multifarious learning, chiefly, but not exclusively, classical. He is more interpretative, and less attentive to restore corrupted texts than Rutgersius.[24] The Adversaria of Gaspar Barthius are better known. This work is in 60 books, and extends to about 1500 pages in folio. It is exactly like those of Turnebus and Muretus, an immense repertory of unconnected criticisms and other miscellaneous erudition. The chapters exceed in number the pages, and each chapter contains several articles. There is, however, more connection, alphabetical or otherwise, than in Turnebus; and they are less exclusively classical, many relating to mediæval and modern writers. The sixtieth book is a commentary on a part of Augustin de Civitate Dei. It is difficult to give a more precise notion of Barthius; he is more æsthetic than Turnebus, but less so than Muretus; he explains and corrects fewer intricate texts than the former, but deals more in parallel passages and excursive illustrations.[25] Though Greek appears more than in Turnebus, by far the greater part of Barthius’s Adversaria relates to Latin, in the proportion of at least fifteen to one. A few small poems are printed from manuscripts for the first time. Barthius, according to Morhof, though he sometimes explains authors very well, is apt to be rash in his alterations, hasty in his judgments, and has too much useless and frivolous matter. Bayle is not more favourable. Barthius published an edition of Statius, and another of Claudian.

[23] “This work,” says Niceron (vol. xxxii.), “is in esteem: the style is neat and polite, the thoughts are just and refined; it has no more quotations than the subject requires.”

[24] Bayle observes of the writings of Reinesius in general, that “good judges of literature have no sooner read some pages, but they place him above those philologers who have only a good memory, and rank him with critics who go beyond their reading and know more than books have taught them. The penetration of their understanding makes them draw consequences, and form conjectures, which lead them to discover hidden treasures. Reinesius was one of these, and made it his chief business to find out what others had not said.”

[25] The following are the heads of the fourth chapter of the first book, which may serve as a specimen of the Adversaria: Ad Victoris Uticensis librum primum notæ et emendationes. Limites. Collimitia. Quantitas. H. Stephanus notatur. Impendere. Totum. Omnimodè. Dextrales. Asta. Francisii Balduini audacia castigatur. Tormenta antiqua. Liguamen Arx capitis. Memoriæ. Cruciari. Balduinus denuo aliquoties notatur. It is true that all this farrago arises out of one passage in Victor of Utica, and Barthius is far from being so desultory as Turnebus: but 3000 columns of such notes make but a dictionary without the help of the alphabet. Barthius tells us himself that he had finished two other volumes of Adversaria, besides correcting the first. See the passage in Bayle, note K. But he does not stand on very high ground as a critic, on account of the rapidity with which he wrote, and, for the same reason, has sometimes contradicted himself. Bayle. Baillet, n. 528. Niceron, vol. vii. Morhof, lib. v. 1. 10.

Other critics—English. 15. Rigault, or Rigaltius, Petit, Thysius, and several more, do honour to France and the Low countries during this period. Spain, though not strong in classical philology, produced Ramiresius de Prado, whose Πεντηκονταρχος, sive quinquaginta militum ductor, 1612, is but a book of criticism with a quaint title.[26] In Latin Literature we can hardly say that England made herself more conspicuous than in Greek. The notes of [Pg 415] John Bond on Horace, published in 1606, are properly a work of the age of Elizabeth: the author was long a schoolmaster in that reign. These notes are only little marginal scholia for the use of boys of no great attainments; and in almost every instance, I believe, taken from Lambinus. This edition of Horace, though Antony Wood calls the author a most noted critic and grammarian, has only the merit of giving the observations of another concisely and perspicuously. Thomas Farnaby is called by Baillet one of the best scholiasts, who says hardly anything useless, and is very concise.[27] He has left notes on several of the Latin poets. It is possible that the notes are compiled, like those of Bond, from the foreign critics. Farnaby also was a schoolmaster, and schoolmasters do not write for the learned. He has however been acknowledged on the continent for a diligent and learned man. Wood says he was ’the chief grammarian, rhetorician, poet, Latinist, and Grecian of his time; and his school was so much frequented, that more churchmen and statesmen issued thence than from any school taught by one man in England.”[28]

[26] This has been ascribed by some to his master Sanctius, author of the Minerva, Ramirez himself having been thought unequal to such remarks as we find in it. Baillet, n. 527.

[27] N. 521.

[28] Athenæ Oxonienses, vol. iii.

Salmasius. 16. But the greatest in this province of literature was Claude Saumaise, best known in the Latin form Salmasius, whom the general suffrage of his compeers placed at their head. An incredible erudition, so that it was said, what Salmasius did not know, was beyond the bounds of knowledge, a memory such as none but those great scholars of former times seem to have possessed, a life passed, naturally enough, in solitary labour, were sufficient to establish his fame among the learned. His intellectual strength has been more questioned; he wrote, it has been alleged, on many subjects that he did not well understand, and some have reduced his merit to that of a grammatical critic, without altogether rating this so highly as the world has done.[29] Salmasius was very proud, self-confident, disdainful, and has consequently fallen into many errors, and even contradictions, through precipitancy. In his controversy with Milton, for which he was little fitted, he is rather feeble, and glad to escape from the severity of his antagonist by a defence of his own Latinity.[30] The works of Salmasius are numerous, and on very miscellaneous subjects; among the philological, his Annotations on the Historiæ Augustæ Scriptores seem to deserve mention. But the most remarkable, besides the Commentary on the Hellenistic Dialect, of which an account has been given, is the Plinianæ Exercitationes, published in 1629. These remarks, nominally on Pliny, are, in the first instance, on Solinus. Salmasius tells us that he had spent much time on Pliny; but finding it beyond the powers of one man to write a commentary on the whole Natural History of that author, he had chosen Solinus, who is a mere compiler from Pliny, and contains nothing from any other source. The Plinianæ Exercitationes is a mass of learning on the geography and natural history of Pliny in more than 900 pages, following the text of the Polyhistor of Solinus.[31]

[29] Baillet, n. 511, is excessively severe on Salmasius; but the homage due to his learning by such an age as that in which he lived cannot be extenuated by the censure of a man like Baillet, of extensive, but rather superficial attainments, and open to much prejudice.

[30] Milton began the attack by objecting to the use of persona for an individual man; but in this mistaken criticism uttered himself the solecism vapulandum. See Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. This expression had previously been noticed by Vavasseur.

[31] Nemo adeo ut propriam, suumque veluti regnum, sibi criticen vindicatum ivit, ac Claudius Salmasius, qui, quemadmodum nihil unquam scripsit, in quo non insignia multa artis criticæ vestigia deprehendas, ita imprimis, ut auctores cum notis et castigationibus absolutissimis editos taceamus, vasto illo Plinianarum Exercitationum opere, quantum in eo eruditionis genere valeret demonstratum dedit. Morhof. lib. v. c. 1. § 12. The Jesuits, Petavius and Harduin, who did not cordially praise any Protestant, charged this book with passing over real difficulties, while a mass of heterogeneous matter was foisted in. Le Clerc (or La Croze) vindicates Salmasius against some censures of Harduin in Bibl. Univ. vol. iv.

Good writers of Latin. 17. It had been the desire of those who aspired to reputation for taste and eloquence to write well in Latin, the sole language, on this side of the Alps and Pyrenees, to which the capacity of choice and polished expression was conceded. But when the French tongue was more cultivated and had a criticism of its own, this became the natural instrument of polite writers in France, and the Latin fell to the merely learned who neglected its beauties. In England it had never been much studied for the purposes of style; and though neither in Germany nor the Low Countries it was very customary to employ the native language, the current Latin of literature was always careless and often barbarous. Even in Italy the number of good writers in that language [Pg 416] was now very scanty. Two deserve to be commemorated with praise, both historians of the same period. The History and Annals of Grotius, in which he seems to have emulated, with more discretion than some others, the nervous brevity of Tacitus, though sometimes not free from a certain hardness and want of flow, nor equal, consequently, in elegance to some productions of the sixteenth century, may be deemed a monument of vigorous and impressive language. The Decades of Famianus Strada, a Roman Jesuit, contain a history of the Flemish war, not written certainly in imitation of Tacitus, whom the author depreciated, but with more classical spirit than we usually find in that age. Scarcely any Latin, however, of this period is equal to that of Barclay in the Argenis and Euphormio. His style, though rather diffuse, and more florid than that of the Augustan age, is perhaps better suited to his subjects, and reminds us of Petronius Arbiter, who was probably his model.

Scioppius. 18. Of the grammatical critics, whose attention was solely turned to the purity of Latin style, two are conspicuous, Gaspar Scioppius and Gerard Vossius. The first, one of those restless and angry spirits whose hand is against all the world, lived a long life of controversy and satire. His productions, as enumerated by Niceron, mostly anonymous, are about one hundred; twenty-seven of which, according to another list, are grammatical.[32] The Protestants, whom he had abandoned, and the Jesuits whom he would not join, are equally the objects of his anger. In literature, he is celebrated for the bitterness of his attacks on Cicero, whom he spared as little as he did his own contemporaries. But Scioppius was an admirable master of the Latin language. All that is remembered of his multifarious publications relates to this. |His Philosophical Grammar.| We owe to him a much improved edition of the Minerva of Sanctius. His own Grammatica Philosophica, (Milan, 1628,) notwithstanding its title, has no pretentions to be called anything more than an ordinary Latin grammar. In this I observed nothing remarkable but that he denies the gerund and supine to be parts of the verb, considering the first as passive participles, and the second as nouns substantive; a theory which seems erroneous.

[32] Niceron, vol. xxxv. Biog. Univ.

His Infamia Famiani. 19. The Infamia Famiani of Scioppius was written against Famianus Strada, whom he hated both as a Jesuit, and as one celebrated for the beauty of his style. This book serves to show how far those who wrote with some eloquence, as Strada certainly did, fell short of classical purity. The faults pointed out are often very obvious to those who have used good dictionaries. Scioppius is however so fastidious as to reject words employed by Seneca, Tacitus, and even Phædrus, as of the silver age; and sometimes probably is wrong in his dogmatic assertion of a negative, that no good authority can be found.

Judicium de Stylo Historico. 20. But his most considerable work is one called Judicium de Stylo Historico, subjoined to the last, and published after his death, in 1650. This treatise consists chiefly of attacks on the Latin style of Thuanus, Lipsius, Casaubon, and other recent authors; but in the course of it we find the remarks of a subtle and severe observer on the ancients themselves. The silver age he dates from the latter years of Augustus, placing even Ovid within it. The brazen he carries up to Vespasian. In the silver period he finds many single words as well as phrases not agreeable to the usage of more ancient authors. As to the moderns the Transalpine writers, he says, speaking as an Italian, are always deficient in purity; they mingle the phraseology of different ages as preposterously as if they were to write Greek in a confusion of dialects; they affect obscurity, a broken structure of periods, a studied use of equivocal terms. This is particularly perceived in the school of Lipsius, whose own faults, however, are redeemed by many beauties even of style.[33] [Pg 417] The Italians, on the contrary, he proceeds to say, read nothing but what is worthy of imitation, and shun every expression that can impair the clearness and purity of a sentence. Yet even in Manutius and in the Jesuit Maffei, he finds instances of barbarism, much more in the French and German scholars of the sixteenth age; expressing contempt upon this account for his old enemy, Joseph Scaliger. Thuanus, he says, is full of modern idioms; a crime not quite unpardonable, when we remember the immensity of his labour, and the greater importance of other objects of it that he had in view.

[33] Transalpinis hominibus ex quotidiano Latini sermonis inter ipsos usu, multa sive barbaræ, sive plebeiæ ac deterioris notæ, sic adhærescere solent, ut postea cum stylum arripuere, de Latinitate eorum dubitare nequaquam iis in mentem veniat. Inde fit ut scripta eorum plerumque minus puritatis habeant, quamvis gratia et venustas in iis minime desideretur. Nam hæc natura duce melius fiebant, quam arte aut studio. Accedit alia causa cur non æquè pura sit multorum Transalpinorum oratio, quod nullo ætatis discrimine ac delectu in autorum lectione versantur, et ex omnium commixtione varium quoddam ac multiforme pro suo quisque ingenio dicendi genus effingunt, contempto hoc Fabii monito: “Diu non nisi optimus quisque et qui credentem sibi minime fallat, legendus est, sed diligenter ac pæne ad scribendi solicitudinem; nec per partes modo scrutanda omnia, sed perlectus liber utique ex integro resumendus.” Itaque genus illud corruptæ orationis, seu κακοζηλιας, effugere nequeunt, quod κοινισμον vocant, quæ est quædam mista ex variarum linguarum ratione oratio, ut si Atticis Dorica, Ionica, Æolica etiam dicta confundas; cui simile est si quis sublimia humilibus, vetera novis, poetica vulgaribus, Sallustiana Tullianis, æneæ et ferreæ ætatis vocabula aureis et argenteis misceat, qui Lipsio deductisque ab eo viris, solennis et jam olim familiaris, est morbus. In quibus hoc amplius, verba maxime impropria, comprehensionem obscuram, compositionem fractam, aut in frustula concisam, vocum similium aut ambiguarum puerilem captationem passim animadvertas. Magnis tamen, non nego, virtutibus vitia sua Lipsius redimit, imprimis acumine, venere, salibus (ut excellens viri ingenium ferebat) tum plurimis lectissimis verbis loquendique modis, ex quibus non tam facultatem bene scribendi, ejusque, quod melius est, intellectum ei deesse, quam voluntatem, quo minus rectiora malit, ambitiuscule, plaususque popularis studio præpediri intelligas. Italorum longè dispar ratio. Primum enim non nisi optimum legere et ad imitandum sibi proponere solent; quod judicio quo cæteras nationes omnium consensu superant, imprimis est consentaneum. Deinde nihil non faciunt, ut evitent omnia, unde aliquid injucundæ et contaminandæ orationis periculi ostenditur. Latinè igitur nunquam loquuntur, quod fieri vix posse persuasum habeant, quin quotidianus ejus linguæ usus ad instar torrentis lutulentus fluat, et cujusque modi verborum sordes secum rapiat, quæ postea quodam familiaritatis jure sic se scribentibus ingerant, ut etiam diligentissimos fallant, et haud dubie pro Latinis habeantur. Hoc eorum consilium cum non intelligant Transalpini, id eorum inscitiæ perperam assignant. Sic rectè Paulo Manutio usu venit, ut quoniam vix tria verba Latina in familiari sermone proferre poterat, eam Germani complures, qui loquentem audituri ad eum venerunt, vehementer præ se contemnerent. Huic tamen nemo qui sanus sit ad puritatis et elegantiæ Latinæ summam quicquid defuisse dixerit, p. 65.

Gerard Vossius de Vitiis sermonis. 21. Gerard Vossius, a far greater name in general literature than Scioppius, contributed more essentially to these grammatical rules; and to him, perhaps, rather than to any other one man, we may refer the establishment of as much correctness of writing as is attainable in a dead language. Besides several works on rhetoric and poetry, which, as those topics were usually treated in ages of more erudition than taste or philosophy, resolved themselves into philological disquisitions, looking only to the language of the ancient writers, we have several more strictly within that province. The long use of Latin in writings on modern subjects, before the classical authors had been studied, had brought in a host of barbarisms, that even yet were not expelled. His treatise De Vitiis Sermonis et Glossematis Latino-barbaris is in nine books; four published in 1645, during the author’s life; five in 1685. The former are by far the most copious. It is a very large collection of words in use among modern writers, for which there is no adequate authority. Of these many are plainly barbarous, and taken from the writers of the middle ages, or at best from those of the fifth and sixth centuries. Few of such would be used by any tolerable scholar. He includes some which, though in themselves good, have a wrong sense given to them. Words however occur, concerning which one might be ignorant without discredit, especially before the publication of this treatise, which has been the means of correcting the ordinary dictionaries.

22. In the five posthumous books, which may be mentioned in this place, having probably been written before 1650, we find chiefly what the author had forgotten to notice in the former, or had since observed. But the most valuable part relates to the “falso suspecta,” which fastidious critics have unreasonably rejected, generally because they do not appear in the Augustan writers. Those whom he calls “Nizoliani verius quam Ciceroniani,” disapproved of all words not found in Cicero.[34] It is curious to perceive, as Vossius shows us, how many apparently obvious words do not occur in Cicero; yet it would be mere affectation to avoid them. This is perhaps the best part of Vossius’s treatise.

[34] Paulus Manutius scrupled to use words on the authority of Cicero’s correspondents, such as Cælius or Pollio; a ridiculous affectation, especially when we observe what Vossius has pointed out, that many common words do not occur in Cicero. It is amazing to see the objections of these Ciceronian critics.

His Aristarchus. 23. We are indebted to Vossius for a still more important work on grammar, the Aristarchus, sive de Arte Grammatica, which first appeared in 1635. This is in seven books; the first treats of grammar in general, and [Pg 418] especially of the alphabet; the second of syllables, under which head he dwells at great length on prosody;[35] the third (which, with all the following, is separately entitled De vocum Analogia) of words generally, and of the genders, numbers, and cases of nouns. The same subject occupies the fourth book. In the fifth, he investigates verbs; and in the sixth, the remaining parts of speech. The last book relates to syntax. This work is full of miscellaneous observations, placed for the most part alphabetically under each chapter. It has been said that Vossius has borrowed almost everything in this treatise from Sanctius and Scioppius. If this be true, we must accuse him of unfairness; for he never mentions the Minerva. But the edition of this grammar by Scioppius was not published till after the death of Vossius. Salmasius extolled that of the latter above all which had been published.[36]

[35] In this we find Vossius aware of the rule brought to light by Dawes, and now familiar, that a final vowel is rarely short before a word beginning with s and a mute consonant.

[36] Tuum de grammatica à te accepi exactissimum in hoc genere opus, ac cui nullum priorum aut prisci ævi aut nostri possit comparari. Apud Blount in Vossio. Daunou says of the grammatical and rhetorical writings of Vossius: Ces livres se recommandent par l’exactitude, par la méthode, par une littérature très étendue. Gibert en convient, mais il trouve de la prolixité. D’autres pourraient n’y voir qu’une instruction sérieuse, souvent austère, et presque toujours profitable. Biogr. Univ.

Progress of Latin Style. 24. In later times the ambition of writing Latin with accuracy and elegance has so universally declined, that the diligence of Scioppius and Vossius has become hardly valuable except to schoolmasters. It is, however, an art not contemptible, either in respect to the taste and discernment for which it gives scope in composition, or for the enhanced pleasure it reflects on the pages of ancient writers. We may distinguish several successive periods in its cultivation since the first revival of letters. If we begin with Petrarch, since before his time there was no continuous imitation of classical models, the first period will comprise those who desired much, but reached little, the writers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, destitute of sufficient aids, and generally incapable of clearly discriminating the pure from the barbarous in Latin. A better æra may be dated from Politian; the ancients were now fully known, and studied with intense labour; the graces of style were frequently caught; yet something was still wanting to its purity and elegance. At the end of a series of improvements, a line marked by Bembus, Sadolet, and Longolius, we arrive at a third period, which we may call that of Paulus Manutius, the golden age of modern Latinity. The diligence in lexicography of Robert Stephens, of Nizolius, of Manutius himself, and the philological treatises of their times, gave a much greater nicety of expression; while the enthusiasm with which some of the best writers emulated the ancients inspired them with a sympathetic eloquence and grace. But towards the end of the century, when Manutius, and Muretus, and Maphæus, and others of that school had been removed by death, an age of worse taste and perhaps of more negligence in grammar came on, yet one of great scholars, and of men powerful even in language; the age of Lipsius, of Scaliger, of Grotius. This may be called the fourth period; and in this apparently the purity of the language, as well as its beauty, rather declined. Finally, the publications of Scioppius and Vossius mark the beginning of another period, which we may consider as lasting to the present day. Grammatical criticism had nearly reached the point at which it now stands; the additions, at least, which later philologers, Perizonius, Burman, Bentley, and many others have made, though by no means inconsiderable, seem hardly sufficient to constitute a distinct period, even if we could refer them properly to any single epoch. And the praise of eloquent composition has been so little sought after the close of the years passed in education, or attained only in short and occasional writings, which have left no durable reputation behind, that we may consider the Latin language, for this purpose, to have silently expired in the regions of polite literature.

Sect. II.

Antiquities of Rome and Greece—Gruter—Meursius—Chronology.

Gruter’s collection of inscriptions. 25. The antiquities of Greece and Rome, though they did not occupy so great a relative space in the literature of this period as of the sixteenth century, were, from the general increase of erudition, not less frequently the subject of books than before. This field indeed is so vast, that its harvest had in many parts been scarcely touched, and in others very imperfectly gathered by those we have already commemorated, [Pg 419] the Sigonii, the Manutii, the Lipsii, and their fellow-labourers in ancient learning. The present century opened with a great work, the Corpus Inscriptionum by Gruter. A few endeavours had long before been made[37] to collect the ancient inscriptions, of which the countries once Roman, and especially Italy, were full. The best work hitherto was by Martin Smetius of Bruges, after whose death his collection of inscriptions was published at Leyden in 1588, under the superintendence of Dousa and Lipsius.

[37] See p. 160.

Assisted by Scaliger. 26. Scaliger first excited his friend Gruter to undertake the task of giving an enlarged edition of Smetius.[38] He made the index for this himself, devoting the labour of the entire morning for ten months (a summo mane ad tempus cœnæ) to an occupation from which so little glory could accrue. “Who,” says Burman, “would not admire the liberal erudition and unpretending modesty of the learned of that age, who, worn as they were by those long and weary labours of which they freely complain in their correspondence with each other, though they knew that such occupations as these could gain for them no better name than that of common clerks or mere drudges, yet hesitated not to abandon for the advantage of the public those pursuits which a higher fame might be expected to reward? Who in these times would imitate the generosity of Scaliger, who, when he might have ascribed to himself this addition to the work of Smetius, gave away his own right to Gruter, and declined to let his name be prefixed either to the index which he had wholly compiled, or to the many observations by which he corrects and explains the inscriptions, and desired, in recompence for the industry of Gruter, that he alone should pass with posterity as the author of the work?”[39] Gruter, it is observed by Le Clerc, has committed many faults: he often repeats the same inscriptions, and still more frequently has printed them from erroneous copies; his quotations from authors, in whom inscriptions are found, sometimes want exactness; finally, for which he could not well be answerable, a vast many have since been brought to light.[40] In consequence of the publication of Gruter’s Inscriptions, the learned began with incredible zeal to examine old marbles for inscriptions, and to insert them in any work that had reference to antiquity. Reinesius collected as many as make a respectable supplement.[41] But a sort of æra in lapidary learning was made by Selden’s description, in 1629, of the marbles, brought by the Earl of Arundel from Greece, and which now belong to the university of Oxford. These contain a chronology of the early times of Greece, on which great reliance has often been placed, though their antiquity is not accounted very high in comparison with those times.

[38] Burman in Præfatione ad Gruteri Corpus Inscript. Several of Scaliger’s epistles prove this, especially the 405th addressed to Gruter.

[39] Id. p. 6.

[40] Bibl. Choisie, vol. xiv., p. 51. Burman, ubi supra, gives a strange reason for reprinting Gruter’s Inscriptions with all their blemishes, even the repetitions; namely, that it was convenient to preserve the number of pages which had been so continually referred to in all learned works, the simple contrivance of keeping the original numeration in the margin not having occurred to him.

[41] Burman, ubi supra.

Works on Roman antiquity. 27. The Jesuit Donati published, in 1633, Roma vetus et nova, which is not only much superior to anything previously written on the antiquities of the city, but is preferred by some competent judges, to the later and more known work of Nardini. Both these will be found, with others of an earlier date, in the third and fourth volumes of Grævius. The tenth volume of the same collection contains a translation from the history of the Great Roads of the Roman Empire, published in French by Nicolas Bergier in 1622; ill arranged, it has been said, and diffuse, according to the custom of his age, but inferior. Grævius declares, in variety of learning to no one work that he has inserted in his numerous volumes. Guther, whose treatise on the pontifical law of Rome appears in the fifth volume, was, says the editor, “a man of various and extended reading, who had made extracts from every class of writers, but had not always digested his learning or weighed what he wrote. Hence much has been found open to criticism in his writings, and there remains a sufficient harvest of the same kind for any one who should care to undertake it.” The best work on Roman dress is by Octavius Ferrarius, published partly in 1642, partly in 1654. This has been called superficial by Spanheim; but Grævius, and several other men of learning, bestow more praise.[42] The Isiac tablet, covered with emblems of Egyptian antiquity, was illustrated by Pignoria, in a work bearing different titles in the successive editions from 1605; and [Pg 420] his explanations are still considered probable. Pignoria’s other writings were also in high esteem with the antiquaries.[43] It would be tedious to enumerate the less important productions of this kind. A minute and scrupulous criticism, it has been said, distinguished the antiquaries of the seventeenth century. Without, perhaps, the comprehensive views of Sigonius and Panvinius, they were more severely exact. Hence forgery and falsehood stood a much worse chance of success than before. Annius of Viterbo had deceived half the scholars of the preceding age. But when Inghirami, in 1637, published his Etruscarum Antiquitatum Fragmenta, monuments of Etruscan antiquity, which he pretended to have discovered at Volterra, the imposture was speedily detected.[44]

[42] Niceron, v. 80. Tiraboschi, xi. 300.

[43] Niceron, vol. xxi. Biogr. Univ.

[44] Salfi, Continuation de Ginguéné xi. 358.

Geography of Cluverius. 28. The Germania Antiqua of Cluverius was published in 1616, and his Italia Antiqua in 1624. These form a sort of epoch in ancient geography. The latter, especially, has ever since been the great repertory of classical illustration on this subject. Cluverius, however, though a man of acknowledged ability and erudition, has been thought too bold an innovator in his Germany, and to have laid down much on his own conjecture.[45]

[45] Blount. Niceron, vol. xxi. Biogr. Univ.

Meursius. 29. Meursius, a native of Holland, began when very young, soon after the commencement of the century, those indefatigable labours on Grecian antiquity, by which he became to Athens and all Hellas what Sigonius had been to Rome and Italy. Niceron has given a list of his publications, sixty-seven in number, including some editions of ancient writers, but for the most part confined to Illustrations of Greek usages; some also treat of Roman. The Græcia feriata, on festivals and games; the Orchestra, on dancing; the Eleusinia, on that deeply interesting and in his time almost untouched subject, the ancient mysteries, are collected in the works of this very learned person, or scattered through the Thesaurus Antiquitatum Græcarum of Gronovius. “Meursius,” says his editor, “was the true and legitimate mystagogue to the sanctuarius of Greece.” But his peculiar attention was justly shown to “the eye of Greece,” Athens. Nothing that bore on her history, her laws and government, her manners and literature, was left by him. The various titles of his works seem almost to exhaust Athenian Antiquity: De Populis Atticæ—Athenæ Atticæ—Cecropia—Regnum Atticum—Archontes Athenienses—Pisistratus—Fortuna Attica—Atticarum Lectionum Libri IV.—Piraeus—Themis Attica—Solon—Areopagus— Panathenæa—Eleusinia—Theseus—Æschylus—Sophocles et Euripides. It is manifest that all later learning must have been built upon his foundations. No one was equal to Meursius in this province; but the second place is perhaps due to Ubbo Emmius, professor of Greek at Groningen, for his Vetus Græcia Illustrata, 1626. |Ubbo Emmius.| The facilities of elucidating the topography of that country were by no means such as Cluverius had found for Italy; and in fact little was done in respect to local investigation in order to establish a good ancient geography till recent times. Samuel Petit, a man placed by some in the very first list of the learned, published in 1635 a commentary on the Athenian laws, which is still the chief authority on that subject.

30. In an age so peculiarly learned as this part of the seventeenth century, it will be readily concluded that many books must have a relation to the extensive subject of this section; though the stream of erudition had taken rather a different course, and watered the provinces of ecclesiastical and mediæval more than those of heathen antiquity. But we can only select one or two which treat of chronology, and that chiefly because we have already given a place to the work of Scaliger.

Chronology of Lydiat. Calvisius. 31. Lydiat was the first who, in a small treatise on the various calendars, 1605, presumed in several respects to differ from that of the dictator of literature. He is in consequence reviled in Scaliger’s Epistles as the most stupid and ignorant of the human race, a portentous birth of England, or at best an ass and a beetle, whom it is below the dignity of the author to answer.[46] Lydiat was however esteemed a [Pg 421] man of deep learning, and did not flinch from the contest. His Emendatio Temporum, published in 1609, is a more general censure of the Scaligerian chronology, but it is rather a short work for the extent of the subject. A German, Seth Calvisius, on the other hand, is extolled to the skies by Scaliger for a chronology founded on his own principles. These are applied in it to the whole series of history, and thus Calvisius may be said to have made an epoch in historical literature. He made more use of eclipses than any preceding writer; and his dates are reckoned as accurate in modern as in ancient history.[47]

[46] Ante aliquot dies tibi scripsi, ut scirem ex te quis sit Thomas Lydiat iste, quo monstro nullum portentosius in vestra Anglia natum puto; tanta est inscitia hominis et confidentia. Ne semel quidem illi verum dicere accidit. And again:—Non est similis morio in orbe terrarum. Paucis asinitatem ejus perstringam ut lector rideat. Nam in tam prodigiosè imperitum scarabæum scribere, neque nostræ dignitatis est, neque otii. Scalig. Epist. 291. Usher, nevertheless, if we may trust Wood, thought Scaliger worsted by Lydiat. Ath. Oxon. iii. 187.

[47] Blount. Biogr. Univ.

Petavius. 32. Scaliger, nearly twenty years after his death, was assailed by an adversary whom he could not have thought it unworthy of his name to repel. Petau, or Petavius, a Jesuit of uncommon learning, devoted the whole of the first of two large volumes, entitled Doctrina, Temporum, 1627, to a censure of the famous work De Emendatione Temporum. This volume is divided into eight books; the first on the popular year of the Greeks; the second on the lunar; the third on the Ægyptian, Persian, and Armenian; the fourth on the solar year; the fifth treats of the correction of the paschal cycle and the calendar; the sixth discusses the principles of the lunar and solar cycles; the seventh is entitled an introduction to computations of various kinds, among which he reckons the Julian period; the eighth is on the true motions of the sun and moon, and on their eclipses. In almost every chapter of the first five books, Scaliger is censured, refuted, reviled. It was a retribution upon his own arrogance; but published thus after his death, with no justice done to his great learning and ability, and scarcely the common terms of respect towards a mighty name, it is impossible not to discern in Petavius both an envious mind, and a partial desire to injure the fame of a distinguished protestant. His virulence indeed against Scaliger becomes almost ridiculous. At the beginning of each of the first five books, he lays it down as a theorem to be demonstrated, that Scaliger is always wrong on the particular subjects to which it relates; and at the close of each, he repeats the same in geometrical form as having been proved. He does not even give him credit for the invention of the Julian period, though he adopts it himself with much praise, positively asserting that it is borrowed from the Byzantine Greeks.[48] The second volume is in five books, and is dedicated to the historical part of chronology, and the application of the principles laid down before. A third volume in 1630, relating to the same subjects, though bearing a different title, is generally considered as part of the work. Petavius, in 1633, published an abridgment of his chronological system, entitled Rationarium Temporum, to which he subjoined a table of events down to his own time, which in the larger work had only been carried to the fall of the empire. This abridgment is better known, and more generally useful than the former.

[48] Lib. vii., c. 7.

Character of this work. 33. The merits of Petavius as a chronologer have been differently appreciated. Many, of whom Huet is one, from religious prejudices rejoiced in what they hoped to be a discomfiture of Scaliger, whose arrogance had also made enemies of a large part of the literary world. Even Vossius, after praising Petavius, declares that he is unwilling to decide between men who have done for chronology more than any others.[49] But he has not always been so favourably dealt with. Le Clerc observes, that as Scaliger is not very perspicuous, and Petavius has explained the former’s opinions before he proceeds to refute them, those who compare the two will have this advantage, that they will understand Scaliger better than before.[50] This is not [Pg 422] very complimentary to his opponent. A modern writer of respectable authority gives us no reason to consider him victorious. “Though the great work of Petavius on chronology,” says M. St. Martin, “is certainly a very estimable production, it is not less certain that he has in no degree contributed to enlarge the boundaries of the science. The author shows too much anxiety to refute Scaliger, whether right or wrong; his sole aim is to destroy the edifice, perhaps too boldly elevated by his adversary. It is not unjust to say that Petavius has literally done nothing for positive chronology; he has not even determined with accuracy what is most incontestable in this science. Many of the dates which he considers as well established, are still subject to great doubt, and might be settled in a very different manner. His work is clear and methodical; and, as it embraces the whole of chronology, it might have become of great authority: but these very qualities have rendered it injurious to the science. He came to arrest the flight which, through the genius of Scaliger, it was ready to take, nor has it made the least progress ever since; it has produced nothing but conjectures, more or less showy, but with nothing solid and undeniable for their basis.”[51]

[49] Vossius apud Niceron, xxxvii. 111. Dionysius Petavius permaulta post Scaligerum optime observavit. Sed nolim judicium interponere inter eos, quorum uterque præclare adeo de chronologia meritus est, ut nullis plus hæc scientia debeat.... Qui sine affectu ac partium studio conferre volet quæ de temporibus scripsere, conspiciet esse ubi Scaligero major laus debeatur, comperiet quoque ubi longe Petavio malit assentiri; erit etiam ubi ampliandum videatur; imo ubi nec facile veritas à quoquam possit indagari. The chronology of Petavius was animadverted upon by Salmasius with much rudeness, and by several other contemporaries engaged in the same controversy. If we were to believe Baillet, Petavius was not only the most learned of the order of Jesuits, but surpassed Salmasius himself de plusieurs coudées. Jugemens des Sçavans, n. 513. But to judge between giants we should be a little taller ourselves than most are. Baillet, indeed, quotes Henry Valois for this preference of Petavius to any other of his age, which, in other words, is much the same as to call him the most learned man that ever lived; and Valois was a very competent judge. The words, however, are found in a funeral panegyric.

[50] Bibl. Choisie, ii. 186. A short abstract of the Petavian scheme of chronology will be found in this volume of Le Clerc.

[51] Biogr. Univ. art. Petavius.



Claim of Popes to temporal Power—Father Paul Sarpi—Gradual Decline of papal Power—Unpopularity of Jesuits—Controversy of Catholics and Protestants—Deference of some of the latter to Antiquity—Wavering in Casaubon—Still more in Grotius—Calixtus—An opposite School of Theologians—Daillé—Chillingworth—Hales—Rise of the Arminian Controversy—Episcopius—Socinians—Question as to Rights of Magistrates in Religion—Writings of Grotius on this Subject—Question of Religious Toleration—Taylor’s Liberty of Prophesying—Theological Critics and Commentators—Sermons on Donne—and Taylor—Deistical Writers—English Translation of the Bible.

Temporal supremacy of Rome.

1. The claim of the Roman see to depose sovereigns was like the retractile claws of some animals, which would be liable to injury were they not usually sheathed. If the state of religion in England and France towards the latter part of the sixteenth century required the assertion of these pretended rights, it was not the policy of a court, guided as often by prudence as by zeal or pride, to keep them for ever before the eyes of the world. Clement VIII. wanted not these latter qualities, but they were restrained by the former; and the circumstances in which the new century opened, did not demand any open collision with the civil power. Henry IV. had been received back into the bosom of the church; he was now rather the ally, the favoured child of Rome, than the object of proscription. Elizabeth again was out of the reach of any enemy but death, and much was hoped from the hereditary disposition of her successor. The temporal supremacy would therefore have been left for obscure and unauthorised writers to vindicate, if an unforeseen circumstance had not called out again its most celebrated champions. After the detection of the gunpowder conspiracy, an oath of allegiance was imposed in England, containing a renunciation, in strong terms, of the tenet that princes excommunicated by the pope might be deposed or murdered by their subjects. None of the English catholics refused allegiance to James; and most of them probably would have felt little scruple at taking the entire oath, which their arch-priest, Blackwell, had approved. But the see of Rome interfered to censure those who took the oath; and a controversy singularly began with James himself in his “Apology for the Oath of Allegiance.” Bellarmin answered, in 1610, under the name of Matthew Tortus; and the duty of defending the royal author was devolved on one of our most learned divines, Lancelot Andrews, who gave to his reply the [Pg 423] quaint title, Tortura Torti.[52] But this favourite tenet of the Vatican was as ill fitted to please the Gallican as the English church. Barclay, a lawyer of Scottish family, had long defended the rights of the crown of France against all opponents. His posthumous treatise on the temporal power of the pope with respect to sovereign princes was published at London in 1609. Bellarmin answered it next year in the ultra-montane spirit which he had always breathed; the parliament of Paris forbade the circulation of his reply.[53]

[52] Biogr. Britann. art. Andrews. Collier’s Ecclesiastical History. Butler’s English Catholics, vol. i. Matthew Tortus was the almoner of Bellarmin, whose name he thought fit to assume as a very slight disguise.

[53] Il pretesto, says Father Paul of Bellarmin’s book, è di scrivere contra Barclajo; ma il vero fine si vede esser per ridurre il papa al colmo dell omnipotente. In questo libro non si tratta altro, che il suddetto argumento, e più di venti cinque volte è replicato, che quando il papa giudica un principe indegno per sua colpa d’aver governo overo inetto, ò pur conosce, che per il bene della chiesa sia cosa utile, lo può privare. Dice più volte, che quando il papa comanda, che non sia ubbidito ad un principe privato da lui, non si può dire, che comandi che principe non sia ubbidito, ma che privata persona, perchè il principe privato dal papa non è più principe. E passa tanto inanzi, che viene à dire, il papa può disponere secondo che giudica ispediente de’ tutti i beni di qual sivoglia Christiano, ma tutto sarebbe niente, se solo dicesse che tale è la sua opinione; dice, ch’è un articolo della fede catholica, ch’è eretico, chi non sente così, e questo con tanta petulantia, che non vi si può aggiungere. Lettere di Sarpi, 50.

Contest with Venice. 2. Paul V. was a pope imbued with the arrogant spirit of his predecessors, Paul IV. and Pius V.; no one was more prompt to exercise the despotism which the Jesuits were ready to maintain. After some minor disputes with the Italian states, he came, in 1605, to his famous conflict with the republic of Venice, on the very important question of the immunity of ecclesiastics from the civil tribunals. Though he did not absolve the subjects of Venice from their allegiance, he put the state under an interdict, forbidding the celebration of divine offices throughout its territory. The Venetian clergy, except the Jesuits and some other regulars, obeyed the senate rather than the pope. The whole is matter of known history. In the termination of this dispute, it has been doubted which party obtained the victory; but in the ultimate result and effect upon mankind, we cannot, it seems, well doubt that the see of Rome was the loser.[54] |Father Paul Sarpi.| Nothing was more worthy of remark, especially in literary history, than the appearance of one great man, Fra Paolo Sarpi, the first who, in modern times and in a Catholic country, shook the fabric not only of papal despotism, but of ecclesiastical independence and power. For it is to be observed that in the Venetian business, the pope was contending for what were called the rights of the church, not for his own supremacy over it. Sarpi was a man of extraordinary genius, learning, and judgment: his physical and anatomical knowledge was such as to have caused at least several great discoveries to be assigned to him;[55] his reasoning was concise and cogent; his style perspicuous and animated. A treatise “Delle Materie Beneficiarie,” in other words, on the rights, revenues, and privileges, in secular matters, of the ecclesiastical order, is a model in its way. The history is so short and yet so sufficient, the sequence so natural and clear, the proofs so judiciously introduced, that it can never be read without delight and admiration of the author’s skill. And this is more striking to those who have toiled at the verbose books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, where tedious quotations, accumulated, not selected, disguise the argument they are meant to confirm. Except the first book of Machiavel’s History of Florence, I do not remember any earlier summary of facts so lucid and pertinent to the object. That object was, with Father Paul, neither more nor less than to represent the wealth and power of the church as ill-gotten and excessive. The Treatise on Benefices led the way, or rather was the seed thrown into the ground that ultimately produced the many efforts both of the press and of public authority to break down ecclesiastical privileges.[56]

[54] Ranke is the best authority on this dispute, as he is on all other matters relating to the papacy in this age, vol. ii., p. 324.

[55] He was supposed to have discovered the valves of the veins, the circulation of the blood, the expansion and contraction of the pupil, the variation of the compass. A quo, says Baptista Porta of Sarpi, aliqua didicisse non solum fateri non erubescimus, sed gloriamur, cum eo doctiorem, subtiliorem, quotquot adhuc videre contigerit, neminem cognovimus ad encyclopædiam. Magia Naturalis, lib. vii., apud Ranke.

[56] A long analysis of the Treatise on Benefices will be found in Dupin, who does not blame it very much. It is worth reading through, and has been commended by many good judges of history.

History of Council of Trent. 3. The other works of Sarpi are numerous, [Pg 424] but none require our present attention except the most celebrated, his History of the Council of Trent. The manuscript of this having been brought to London by Antonio de Dominis, was there published, in 1619, under the name of Pietro Soave Polano, the anagram of Paolo Sarpi Veneto. It was quickly translated into several languages, and became the textbook of protestantism on the subject. Many incorrectnesses have been pointed out by Pallavicini, who undertook the same task on the side of Rome; but the general credibility of Father Paul’s history has rather gained by the ordeal of hostile criticism. Dupin observes that the long list of errors imputed by Pallavicini, which are chiefly in dates and such trifling matters, make little or no difference as to the substance of Sarpi’s history; but that its author is more blamable for a malicious disposition to impute political motives to the members of the council, and idle reasonings which they did not employ.[57] Ranke, who has given this a more minute scrutiny than Dupin could have done, comes nearly to the same result. Sarpi is not a fair, but he is, for those times, a tolerably exact historian. His work exhibits the general excellences of his manner; freedom from redundancy, a clear, full, agreeable style; a choice of what is most pertinent and interesting in his materials. Much has been disputed about the religious tenets of Father Paul; it appears to me quite out of doubt, both by the tenor of his history, and still more unequivocally, if possible, by some of his letters, that he was entirely hostile to the church, in the usual sense, as well as to the court of Rome, sympathising in affection, and concurring generally in opinion, with the reformed denomination.[58] But as he continued in the exercise of his functions as a Servite monk, and has always passed at Venice more for a saint than a heretic, some of the Gallican writers have not scrupled to make use of his authority, and to extenuate his heterodoxy. There can be no question but that he inflicted a severe wound on the spiritual power.

[57] Hist. Eccles. Cent. 17.

[58] The proofs of this it would be endless to adduce from the history: they strike the eye in every page, though it cannot be expected that he should declare his way of thinking in express terms. Even in his letters he does not this. They were printed, with the date, at least, of Verona, in 1673. Sully’s fall he laments, “having become partial to him on account of his firmness in religion.” Lett. 53. Of the republic of the United Provinces he says: La nascenza di quale si come Dio ha favorito con grazie inestimabili, così pare che la malizia del diavolo oppugni con tutte le arti. Lett. 23. After giving an account of one Marsilio, who seems to have been a Protestant, he adds: Credo se non fosse per ragion di stato, si trovarebbono diversi, che saltarebbono da questo fosso di Roma nella cima dell riforma; ma chi teme una cosa, chi un’altra. Dio però par che goda la più minima parte dei pensieri umani. So ch’ ella mi intende senza passar più oltre. Lett. 81., Feb., 1612. Sarpi speaks with great contempt of James I., who was occupied like a pedant about Vorstius and such matters. Se il re d’Inghilterra non fosse dottore, si potrebbe sperare qualche bene, e sarebbe un gran principio, perchè Spagna non si può vincere, se non levato il pretesto della religione, ne questo si leverà se non introducendo i reformati nell’Italia. E si il rè sapesse fare, sarebbe facile e in Torino, e quì. Lett. 88. He wrote, however, a remarkable letter to Casaubon, much about this time, hinting at his wish to find an asylum in England, and using rather too different language about the king: In eo, rarum, cumulatæ virtutes principis ac viri. Regum idea est, ad quam forte ante actis sæculis nemo formatus fuit. Si ego ejus protectione dignus essem, nihil mihi deesse putarem ad mortalis vitæ felicitatem. Tu, vir præstantissime, nihil te dignius efficere potes, quam tanto principi mea studia commendare. Casaubon, Epist. 811. For mea in another edition is read tua; but the former seems preferable. Casaubon replied, that the king wished Paul to be a light to his own country; but if anything should happen, he had written to his ambassador, ut nulla in re tibi desit.

Gallican liberties. Richer. 4. That power, predominant as it seemed in the beginning of the seventeenth century, met with adversaries besides Sarpi. The French nation, and especially the parliament of Paris, had always vaunted what were called the liberties of the Gallican church; liberties, however, for which neither the church itself, nor the king, the two parties interested, were prone to display much regard. A certain canonist, Richer, published in 1611 a book on ecclesiastical and political power; in which he asserted the government of the church to be a monarchy tempered with aristocracy; that is, that the authority of the pope was limited in some respects by the rights of the bishop. Though this has since become a fundamental principle among the Cisalpine catholics, it did not suit the high notions of that age; and the bishops were content to sacrifice their rights by joining in the clamour of the papal party. A synod assembled by Cardinal du Perron, archbishop of Sens, condemned the book of Richer, who was harassed for the rest of his life by the persecution of those he had sought to [Pg 425] defend against a servitude which they seemed to covet. His fame has risen in later times. Dupin concludes a careful analysis of Richer’s treatise with a noble panegyric on his character and style of writing.[59]

[59] Hist. Eccles. Cent. 17. l. ii. c. 7. Niceron, vol. xxvii. The Biographie Universelle talks of the republican principles of Richer: it must be in an ecclesiastical sense, for nothing in the book, I think, relates to civil politics. Father Paul thought Richer’s scheme might lead to something better, but did not highly esteem it. Quella mistura del governo ecclesiastico di monarchio e aristocrazia mi pare una composizione di oglio e acqua, che non possono mai mischiarsi insieme. Lettere di Sarpi, 109. Richer entirely denies the infallibility of the pope in matters of faith, and says there is no authority adduced for it but that of the popes themselves. His work is written on the principles of the Jansenizing Gallicans of the 18th century, and probably goes farther than Bossuet, or any who wished to keep on good terms with Rome would have openly approved. It is prolix, extending to two volumes 4to. Some account of Richer will be found in Histoire de la Mère et du Fils, ascribed to Mezeray, or Richelieu.

Perron. 5. The strength of the ultra-montane party in the Gallican church was Perron, a man of great natural capacity, a prodigious memory, a vast knowledge of ecclesiastical and profane antiquity, a sharp wit, a pure and eloquent style, and such readiness in dispute, that few cared to engage him.[60] If he did not always reason justly, or upon consistent principles, these are rather failings in the eyes of lovers of truth, than of those, and they are the many, who sympathize with the dexterity and readiness of a partizan. He had been educated as a Protestant, but, like half the learned of that religion, went over from some motive or other to the victorious side. In the conference at Fontainebleau with Du Plessis Mornay, it has been mentioned already that he had a confessed advantage; but victory in debate follows the combatant rather than the cause. The supporters of Gallican liberties were discouraged during the life of this cardinal. He did not explicitly set himself against them, or deny, perhaps, the principles of the Council of Constance; but, by preventing any assertion of them, he prepared the way, as it was hoped at Rome, for a gradual recognition of the whole system of Bellarmin. Perron, however, was neither a Jesuit, nor very favourable to that order. Even so late as 1638, a collection of tracts by the learned brothers DuPuy, on the liberties of the church, was suppressed at the instance of the nuncio, on the pretext that it had been published without permission. It was reprinted some years afterwards, when the power of Rome had begun to decline.[61]

[60] Dupin.

[61] Dupin 1. iii. c. 1. Grot. Epist. 1105. Liber de libertatibus ecclesiæ Gallicanæ ex actis desumptus publicis, quo regis regnique jura contra molitiones pontificias defenduntur ipsius regis jussu vendi est prohibitus. See also epist. 519.

Decline of papal power. 6. Notwithstanding the tone still held by the court of Rome and its numerous partisans, when provoked by any demonstration of resistance, they generally avoided aggressive proceedings, and kept in reserve the tenets which could not be pleasing to any civil government. We should doubtless find many assertions of the temporal authority of the pope by searching into obscure theology during this period; but after Bellarmin and Perron were withdrawn from the stage, no prominent champions of that cause stood forth; and it was one of which great talents and high station alone could overcome the intrinsic unpopularity. Slowly and silently, the power of Rome had much receded before the middle of the seventeenth century. Paul V. was the last of the imperious pontiffs who exacted obedience as sovereigns of Christendom. His successors have had recourse to gentler methods, to a paternal rather than regal authority; they have appealed to the moral sense, but have rarely or never alarmed the fears of their church. The long pontificate of Urban VIII. was a period of transition from strength to weakness. In his first years, this pope was not inactively occupied in the great cause of subduing the Protestant heresy. It has been lately brought to light, that soon after the accession of Charles I., he had formed a scheme, in conjunction with France and Spain, for conquering and partitioning the British islands: Ireland was to be annexed to the ecclesiastical state, and governed by a viceroy of the Holy See.[62] But he afterwards gave up these visionary projects, and limited his ambition to more practicable views of aggrandizement in Italy. It is certain that the temporal principality of the popes has often been a useful diversion for the rest of Europe: the duchy of Urbino was less in our notions of importance than Germany or Britain; but it was quite as capable of engrossing the thoughts and passions of a pope.

[62] Ranke, ii. 518. It is not at all probable that France and Spain would have seriously coalesced for any object of this kind: the spoil could not have been safely divided. But the scheme serves to show the ambition, at that time, of the Roman See.

Unpopularity of the Jesuits. 7. The subsidence of catholic zeal before [Pg 426] the middle of this age deserves especially to be noted at a time when, in various directions, that church is beginning to exalt her voice, if not to rear her head, and we are ostentatiously reminded of the sudden revival of her influence in the sixteenth century. It did undoubtedly then revive; but it is equally manifest that it receded once more. Among the leading causes of this decline in the influence, not only of what are called ultra-montane principles, but of the zeal and faith that had attended them, a change as visible, and almost as rapid as the reaction in favour of them which we have pointed out in the latter part of the sixteenth century, we must reckon the increasing prejudices against the Jesuit order. Their zeal, union, indefatigable devotion to the cause, had made them the most useful of allies, the most formidable of enemies; but in these very qualities were involved the seeds of public hatred and ultimate ruin. Obnoxious to Protestant states for their intrigues, to the lawyers, especially in France, for their bold theories of political power and encroaching spirit, to the Dominicans for the favour they had won, they had become, long before the close of this period, rather equivocal and dangerous supporters of the See of Rome.[63] Their fate, in countries where the temper of their order had displayed itself with less restraint, might have led reflecting men to anticipate the consequences of urging too far the patience of mankind by the ambition of an insulated order of priests. In the first part of this century the Jesuits possessed an extensive influence in Japan, and had re-united the kingdom of Abyssinia to the Roman church. In the course of a few years more, they were driven out from both; their intriguing ambition had excited an implacable animosity against the church to which they belonged.

[63] Clement VIII. was tired of the Jesuits, as we are told by Perron, who did not much love them. Perroniana, pp. 286, 288.

Richelieu’s care of Gallican liberties. 8. Cardinal Richelieu, though himself a theological writer, took great care to maintain the liberties of the French crown and church. No extravagance of Hildebrandic principles would find countenance under his administration. Their partisans endeavoured sometimes to murmur against his ecclesiastical measures; it was darkly rumoured that he had a scheme of separating the Catholic church of France, something in the manner of Henry VIII., from the supremacy of Rome, though not from her creed; and one Hersent published, under the name of Optatus Gallus, a book so rapidly suppressed, as to be of the greatest rarity, the aim of which was to excite the public apprehension of this schism.[64] It was in defence of the Gallican liberties, so far as it was yet prudent to assert them, that De Marca was employed to write a treatise, De Concordaniâ Sacerdotii et Imperii. This book was censured at Rome; yet it does not by any means come up to the language afterwards usual in the Gallican church; it belongs to its own age, the transitional period in which Rome had just ceased to act, but not to speak as a mistress. De Marca was obliged to make some concessions before he could obtain the bulls for a bishopric. He rose however afterwards to the see of Paris. The first part of his work appeared in 1641, the second after the death of the author.

[64] Biogr. Univ.Grot. epist. 982, 1354. By some other letters of Grotius, it appears that Richelieu tampered with those schemes of reconciling the different religions which were then afloat, and all which went on setting the Pope nearly aside. Ruarus intimates the same. Epist. Ruar. p. 401.

Controversy of Catholics and Protestants. 9. In this most learned period, according to the sense in which the word was then taken, that Europe has ever seen, it was of course to be expected that the studious ecclesiastics of both the Romish and Protestant denomination would pour forth a prodigal erudition in their great controversy. It had always been the aim of the former to give an historical character to theological inquiry; it was their business to ascertain the faith of the Catholic church as a matter of fact, the single principle of its infallibility being assumed as the basis of all investigation. But their opponents, though less concerned in the issue of such questions, frequently thought themselves competent to dispute the field; and conversant as they were with ecclesiastical antiquity, found in its interminable records sufficient weapons to protract the war, though not to subdue the foe. Hence, partly in the last years of the sixteenth century, but incomparably more in the present, we find an essential change in the character of theological controversy. |Increased respect for the fathers.| It became less reasoning, less scriptural, less general and popular, but far more patristic, that is, appealing to the testimonies of the fathers, and altogether more historical than before. Several consequences of material influence on religious opinion sprang naturally from this method of conducting [Pg 427] the defence of Protestantism. One was that it contracted very greatly the circle of those who, upon any reasonable interpretation of the original principle of personal judgment, could exercise it for themselves; it became the privilege of the deeply learned alone. Another that, from the real obscurity and incoherence of ecclesiastical authorities, those who had penetrated farthest into that province of learning were least able to reconcile them; and however they might disguise it from the world, while the pen was in their hands, were themselves necessarily left, upon many points, in an embarrassing state of doubt and confusion. A third effect was, that upon these controversies of Catholic tradition, the church of Rome had very often the best of the argument; and this was occasionally displayed in those wrestling matches between religious disputants, which were held, publicly or privately, either with the vain hope of coming to an agreement, or to settle the faith of the hearers. And from the two last of these causes it arose, that many Protestants went over to the church of Rome, and that a new theological system was contrived to combine what had been deemed the incompatible tenets of those who had burst from each other with such violence in the preceding century.

Especially in England. Laud. 10. This retrocession, as it appeared, and as in spirit it was, towards the system abandoned in the first impetuosity of the Reformation, began in England about the conclusion of the sixteenth century. It was evidently connected with the high notions of ecclesiastical power, of an episcopacy by unbroken transmission from the apostles, of a pompous ritual, which the rulers of the Anglican church took up at that time in opposition to the puritans. It rapidly gained ground in the reign of James, and still more of his son. Andrews, a man far more learned in patristic theology than any of the Elizabethan bishops, or perhaps than any of his English contemporaries except Usher, was, if not the founder, the chief leader of this school. Laud became afterwards, from his political importance, its more conspicuous head; and from him it is sometimes styled. In his conference with the Jesuit Fisher, first published in 1624, and afterwards with many additions in 1639, we find an attempt not feeble, and we may believe, not feigned, to vindicate the Anglican Protestantism, such as he meant it to be, against the church of Rome, but with much deference to the name of Catholic, and the authority of the ancient fathers.[65] It is unnecessary to observe, that this was the prevalent language of the English church in that period of forty years, which was terminated by the civil war; and that it was accompanied by a marked enhancement of religious ceremonies, as well as by a considerable approximation to several doctrines and usages of the Romanists.

[65] Ce qu’il y a de particulier dans cette conférence, c’est qu’on y cite beaucoup plus les pères de l’église, que n’ont accoutumé de faire les Protestans de deça la mer. Comme l’église, Anglicane a une vénération toute particulière pour l’antiquité, c’est par là que les Catholiques Romains l’attaquent ordinairement. Bibl. Univ. i. 336. Laud, as well as Andrews, maintained “that the true and real body of Christ is in that blessed sacrament.” Conference with Fisher, p. 299. (edit. 1639.) And afterwards, “for the church of England, nothing is more plain than that it believes and teaches the true and real presence of Christ in the eucharist.” Nothing is more plain than the contrary, as Hall, who belonged to a different school of theology, though the friend of Laud, has in equivalent words observed. Hall’s works (Pratt’s edition), vol. ix., p. 374.

Defections to the Catholic church. 11. The progress of the latter church for the first thirty years of the present century was as striking and uninterrupted as it had been in the final period of the sixteenth. Victory crowned its banners on every side. The signal defeats of the elector Palatine and the king of Denmark, the reduction of Rochelle, displayed an evident superiority in the ultimate argument to which the Protestants had been driven, and which silences every other; while a rigid system of exclusion from court favour and of civil discouragement, or even of banishment and suppression of public worship, as in the Austrian dominions, brought round the wavering and flexible to acquiesce with apparent willingness in a despotism they could neither resist nor escape. The nobility, both in France and Germany, who in the last age had been the first to embrace a new faith, became afterwards the first to desert it. Many also of the learned and able Protestants gave evidence of the jeopardy of that cause by their conversion. It is not, however, just to infer that they were merely influenced by this apprehension. Two other causes mainly operated; one, to which we have above alluded, the authority given to the traditions of the church, recorded by the writers called fathers, and with which it was found very difficult to reconcile all the protestant creed; another, the intolerance [Pg 428] of the reformed churches, both Lutheran and Calvinistic, which gave as little latitude as that which they had quitted.

Wavering of Casaubon. 12. The defections, from whatever cause, are numerous in the seventeenth century. But two, more eminent than any who actually renounced the Protestant religion, must be owned to have given evident signs of wavering, Casaubon and Grotius. The proofs of this are not founded merely on anecdotes which might be disputed, but on their own language.[66] Casaubon was staggered by the study of the fathers, in which he discovered many things, especially as to the eucharist, which he could not in any manner reconcile with tenets of the French Hugonots.[67] Perron used to assail him with arguments he could not parry. If we may believe this cardinal, [Pg 429] he was on the point of declaring publicly his conversion before he accepted the invitation of James I. to England; and even while in England he promoted the Catholic cause more than the world was aware.[68] This is more than we can readily believe, and we know that he was engaged both in maintaining the temporal rights of the crown against the school of Bellarmin, and in writing animadversions on the ecclesiastical annals of Baronius. But this opposition to the extreme line of the ultra-montanists might be well compatible with a tendency towards much that the reformers had denounced. It seemed in truth to disguise the corruptions of the Catholic church by rendering the controversy almost what we might call personal; as if Rome alone, either by usurping the headship of the church, which might or might not have bad consequences, or by its encroachments on the civil power which were only maintained by a party, were the sole object of that religious opposition, which had divided one half of Europe from the other. Yet if Casaubon, as he had much inclination to do, being on ill terms with some in England, and disliking the country,[69] had returned to France, it seems probable that he would not long have continued in what, according to the principles he had adopted, would appear a schismatical communion.

[66] In his correspondence with Scaliger, no indications of any vacillation as to religion appear. Of the unfortunate conference between Du Plessis Mornay and Du Perron, in the presence of Henry IV., where Casaubon himself had been one of the umpires, he speaks with great regret, though with a full acknowledgment that his champion had been worsted. Quod scribis de congressu Diomedis cum Glauco, sic est omnino, ut tu judicas rectè. Vir optimus, si eum sua prudentia orbi Gallico satis explorata non defecisset, nunquam ejus certaminis aleam subiisset. After much more he concludes: Equidem in lacrymas prope adducor, quoties subit animo tristissima illius diei species, cum de ingenua nobilitate, de excellenti ingenio, de ipsa denique veritate pompaticè adeo vidi triumphatum. Epist. 214. (Oct., 1600.) See also a letter to Heinsius on the same subject. Cassaub. Epist. 809. In a letter to Perron himself, in 1604, he professed to adhere to Scripture alone, against those who vetustatis auctoritatem pro ratione obtendunt. Epist. 417. A change however came gradually over his mind, and he grew fascinated by this very authority of antiquity. In 1609 he had, by the king’s command, a conference on religion with Du Perron, but very reluctantly, and, as his biographer owns, quibusdam visus est quodammodo cespitasse. Casaubon was, for several reasons, no match in such a disputation for Perron. In the first place, he was poor and weak, and the other powerful, which is a reason that might dispense with our giving any others; but secondly, he had less learning in the fathers; and thirdly, he was entangled by deference for these same fathers; finally, he was not a man of as much acuteness and eloquence as his antagonist. The issue of battle does not follow the better cause, but the sharper sword, especially when there is so much ignoratio elenchi as in this case.

[67] Perron continued to persecute Casaubon with argument, whenever he met him in the king’s library. Je vous confesse (the latter told Wytenbogart) qu’il m’a donné beaucoup des scrupules qui me restent, et auxquels je ne sais pas bien répondre ... il me fache de rougir. L’escapade que je prens est que je n’y puis répondre, mais que j’y penserai. Cassauboni Vita (ad edit. Epistolarum, 1709.). And in writing to the same Wytenbogart, Jan., 1610, we find similar signs of wavering. Me, ne quid dissimulem, hæc tanta diversitas a fide veteris ecclesiæ non parum turbat. Ne de aliis dicam, in re sacramentaria a majoribus discessit Lutherus, a Luthero Zuinglius, ab utroque Calvinus, a Calvino qui postea scripserunt. Nam constat mihi ac certissimum est, doctrinam Calvini de sacra eucharistia longe aliam esse ab ea quæ in libro observandi viri Molinæi nostri continetur, et quæ vulgo in ecclesiis nostris auditur. Itaque Molinæum qui oppugnant, Calvinum illi non minus objiciunt, quam aliquem è veteribus ecclesiæ doctoribus. Si sic pergimus, quis tandem erit exitus? Jam quod idem Molinæus, omnes veterum libros suæ doctrinæ contrarios respuit, ut ὑποβολιμαιους, cui mediocriter docto fidem faciet? Falsus illi Cyrillus, Hierosolymorum episcopus; falsus Gregorius Nyssenus, falsus Ambrosius, falsi omnes. Mihi liquet falli ipsum, et illa scripta esse verissima, quæ ille pronuntiat ψευδεπιγραφα. Ep. 670. See also Epist. 1043, written from Paris in the same year. He came now to England, and to his great satisfaction found the church and its prelates exactly what he would wish. Illud solatio mihi est, quod in hoc regno speciem agnosco veteris ecclesiæ, quam ex patrum scriptis didici. Adde quod episcopis ὁσημεραι συνδιαγω doctissimis, sapientissimis, υσεβεστατοις, et quod novum mihi est, priscæ ecclesiæ amantissimis. (Lond., 1611.) Ep. 703. His letters are full of similar language. See 743, 744, 772, &c. He combined this inordinate respect for authority with its natural concomitant, a desire to restrain free inquiry. Though his patristic lore should have made him not unfavourable to the Arminians, he writes to Bertius, one of their number, against the liberty of conscience they required. Illa quam passim celebras, prophetandi libertas, bonis et piis hujus ecclesiæ viris mirum in modum suspecta res est et odiosa. Nemo enim dubitat de pietate Christiana actum esse inter vos, si quod videris agere, illustrissimis ordinibus fuerit semel persuasum, ut liberum unicuique esse velint, via regia relicta semitam ex animi libidine sibi aliisque aperire. Atqui veritas, ut scis, in omnibus rebus scientiis et disciplinis unica est, et το φωνειν ταυτο inter ecclesiæ veræ notas, fateantur omnes, non est postrema. Ut nulli esse dubium possit, quin tot πολυσχιδεις semitæ totidem sint errorum diverticula. Quod olim de politicis rebus prudentissimi philosophorum dixerunt, id mihi videtur multo etiam magis in ecclesiasticis locum habere, την αγαν ελευθεριαν εις δουλειαν εξ αναγκης τελευτᾶν, et πασαν τυραννιδα αναρχιας esse κρειττην [sic!] et optabiliorem.... Ego qui inter pontificios diu sum in patria mea versatus, hoc tibi possum affirmare, nulla re magis stabiliri την τυραννιδα του χξζ quam dissentionibus nostris et dissidiis.

Meric Casaubon’s “Pietas contra Maledicos Patrii Nominis ac Religionis Hostes,” is an elaborate vindication of his father against all charges alleged by his adversaries. The only one that presses is that of wavering in religion. And here Meric candidly owns that his father had been shaken by Perron about 1610. (See this tract subjoined to Almeloveen’s edition of the Epistles, p. 89.) But afterwards, by dint of theological study, he got rid of the scruples the cardinal had infused into him, and became a Protestant of the new Anglican school, admiring the first six centuries, and especially the period after Constantine: Hoc sæculum cum duobus sequentibus ακμη της εκκλησιας flos ipse ecclesiæ et ætas illius aurea queat nuncupari. Prolegomena in Exercitationes in Baronium. His friend Scaliger had very different notions of the fathers. The fathers, says he, in his blunt way, are very ignorant, know nothing of Hebrew, and teach us little in theology. Their interpretations of scripture are strangely perverse. Even Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostles, is full of errors. It will not do to say that, because they were near the apostolic age, they are never wrong. Scaligerana Secunda. Le Clerc has some good remarks on the deference shown by Casaubon to the language held by the fathers about the eucharist, which shook his Protestantism. Bibl. Choisie, xix. 230.

[68] Perroniana. Grot. Epist., pag. 939.

[69] Several of his letters attest his desire for returning. He wrote to Thuanus imploring his recommendation to the queen regent. But he had given much offence by writing against Baronius, and had very little chance of an indemnity for his prebend of Canterbury, if he had given that up on leaving England. This country, however, though he sometimes calls it μακαρων νησος, did not suit his disposition. He was never on good terms with Savile, the most presumptuous of the learned, according to him, and most scornful, whom he accused of setting on Montague to anticipate his animadversions on Baronius, with some suspicion, on Casaubon’s part, of stealing from him. Ep. 794, 848, 849. But he seems himself to have become generally unpopular, if we may trust his own account. Ego mores Anglorum non capio. Quoscunque habui notos priusquam huc venirem, jam ego illis sum ignotus, verè peregrinus, barbarus; nemo illorum me vel verbulo appellat; appellatus silet. Hoc quid sit, non scio. Hic—— [Henricus Wotton] vir doctissimus ante annos viginti mecum Genevæ vixit, et ex eo tempore literis amicitiam columius. Postquam ego e Galliis, ille Venetiis huc convenimus, desii esse illi notus; meæ quoque epistolæ responsum dedit nullum; an sit daturus nescio. Ep. 841. It seems difficult to account for so marked a treatment of Casaubon, except on the supposition that he was thought to pursue a course unfavourable to the Protestant interest. He charges the English with despising everyone but themselves; and ascribes this to the vast wealth of their universities; a very discreditable source of pride in our ancestors, if so it were. But Casaubon’s philological and critical skill passed for little in this country, where it was not known enough to be envied. In mere ecclesiastical learning he was behind some English scholars.

And of Grotius. 13. Grotius was from the time of his turning his mind to theology, almost as much influenced as Casaubon by primitive authority, and began, even in 1614, to commend the Anglican church for the respect it showed, very unlike the rest of the reformed, to that standard. But the ill-usage he sustained at the hands of those who boasted their independence of papal tyranny, the caresses of the Gallican clergy after he had fixed his residence at Paris, the growing dissensions and virulence of the Protestants, the choice that seemed alone to be left in their communion, between a fanatical anarchy, disintegrating everything like a church on the one hand, and a domination of bigoted and vulgar ecclesiastics on the other, made him gradually less and less averse to the comprehensive and majestic unity of the Catholic hierarchy, and more and more willing to concede some point of uncertain doctrine, or [Pg 430] some form of ambiguous expressive. This is abundantly perceived, and has often been pointed out in his Annotations on the Consultation of Cassander,[70] written in 1641, in his Animadversion on Rivet, who had censured the former treatise as inclining to Popery, in the Votum pro Pace Ecclesiasticâ [Pg 431] and in the Rivetiani Apologetici Discussio; all which are collected in the fourth volume of the theological works of Grotius. These treatises display an uniform and progressive tendency to defend the church of Rome in everything that can [Pg 432] be reckoned essential to her creed; and, in fact, he will be found to go farther in this direction than Cassander.

[70] Casaubon himself hailed Grotius as in the right path. In hodiernis contentionibus in negotio religionis et doctè et piè judicat, et in veneratione antiquitatis cum iis sentit, qui optimè sentiunt. Epist. 883. See also 772, which is addressed to him. This high respect for the fathers and for the authority of the primitive church grew strongly upon him, and the more because he found they were hostile to the Calvinistic scheme. He was quite delighted at finding Jerome and Chrysostom on his side. Epist. 29. (1614). In the next year, writing to Vossius, he goes a great length. Cæterum ego reformatarum ecclesiarum miseriam in hoc maximè deploro, quod cum symbola condere catholicæ sit ecclesiæ, ipsis inter se nunquam eam in rem convenire sit datum, atque interim libelli apologetici ex re nata scripti ad imperatorem, reges, principes, aut ut in concilio œcumenico exhiberentur, trahi cœperint in usum longè alienum. Quid enim magis est alienum ab unitate catholica quam quod diversis in regionibus pastores diversa populo tradere coguntur? Quam mirata fuisset hoc prodigium pia antiquitas! Sed hæc aliaque multa mussitanda sunt nobis ob iniquitatem temporum. Epist. 66. He was at this time, as he continued till near the end of his life, when he moved on farther, highly partial to the Anglican church. He was, however, too Erastian for the English bishops of the reign of James, as appears by a letter addressed to him by Overall, who objected to his giving, in his treatise De Imperio circa Sacra, a definitive power in controversies of faith to the civil magistrate, and to his putting episcopacy among non-essentials, which the bishops held to be of divine right. Grotius adhered to his opinion, that episcopacy was not commanded as a perpetual institution, and thought, at that time, that there was no other distinction between bishops and priests than of precedency. Nusquam meminit, he says in one place, Clemens Romanus exsortis illius episcoporum auctoritatis, quæ ecclesiæ consuetudine post Marci mortem Alexandriæ, atque eo exemplo alibi, introduci cœpit, sed planè ut Paulus Apostolus, ostendit ecclesias communi presbyterorum, qui iidem omnes et episcopi ipsi Pauloque dicuntur, consilio fuisse gubernatas. Even in his latter writings he seems never to have embraced the notions of some Anglican divines on this subject, but contents himself, in his remarks on Cassander, who had said, singularly as it may be thought, Convenit inter omnes olim Apostolorum ætate inter episcopos et presbyteros discrimen nullum fuisse, sed postmodum ordinis servandi et schismatis evitandi causa episcopum presbyteris fuisse præpositum, with observing, Episcopi sunt presbyterorum principes; et ista προστασια (præsidentia) à Christo præmonstrata est in Petro, ab Apostolis vero, ubicunque fieri poterat, constituta, et a Spiritu Sancto comprobata in Apocalypsi. Op. Theolog. iv. 579, 621.

But to return from this digression to the more immediate purpose. Grotius for several years continued in this insulated state, neither approving of the Reformation nor the church of Rome. He wrote in 1622 to Episcopius against those whom he called Cassandrians, Qui etiam plerosque Romanæ ecclesiæ errores improbantibus auctores sunt, ne ab ejus communione discedant. Ep. 181. He was destined to become Cassandrian himself, or something more. The infallibility of the church was still no doctrine of his. At illa auctoritas ecclesiæ αναμαρτητου quam ecclesiæ, et quidem suæ, Romanenses ascribunt, cum naturali ratione non sit evidens, nam ipsi fatentur Judaicam ecclesiam id privilegium non habuisse, sequitur ut adversus negantes probari debeat ex sacris literis. Epist. secunda series, p. 761 (1620). And again: Quæ scribit pater de restituendis rebus in eum statum, qui ante concilium Tridentinum fuerat, esset quidem hoc permultum; sed transubstantiatio et ei respondens adoratio pridem Lateranensi concilio definita est, et invocatio peculiaris sanctorum pridem in omnes liturgias recepta. P. 772 (1623).

Grotius passed most of his latter years at Paris, in the honourable station of ambassador from the court of Sweden. He seems to have thought it a matter of boast that he did not live as a Protestant. See Ep. 196. The Hugonot ministers of Charenton requested him to communicate with them, which he declined, p. 854, 856 (1635). He now was brooding over a scheme of union among Protestants: the English and Swedish churches were to unite, and to be followed by Denmark. Constituto semel aliquo tali ecclesiarum corpore, spes est subinde alios atque alios se aggregaturos. Est autem hæc res eo magis optanda protestantibus, quod quotidie multi eos deserunt et se cœtibus Romanensium addunt, non alia de causa, quam quod non unum est eorum corpus, sed partes distractæ, greges segreges, propria cuique sua sacrorum communio, ingens præterea maledidicendi certamen. Epist. 866 (1637). See also p. 827 (1630). He fancied that by such a weight of authority, grounded on the ancient church, the exercise of private judgment, on which he looked with horror, might be overruled. Nisi interpretandi sacras literas, he writes to Calixtus, libertatem cohibemus intra lineas eorum, quæ omnes illæ non sanctitate minus quam primæva vetustate venerabiles ecclesiæ ex ipsa prædicatione scripturis ubique consentiente hauserint, diuque sub crucis maximè magisterio retinuerint, nisi deinde in iis quæ liberam habuere disputationem fraterna lenitate ferre alii alios discimus, quis erit litium sæpe in factiones, deinde in bella erumpentium finis? Ep. 674 (Oct., 1636). Qui illam optiman antiquitatem sequuntur ducem, quod te semper fecisse memini, iis non eveniet, ut multum sibi ipsis sint discolores. In Angliâ vides quam bene processerit dogmatum noxiorum repurgatio, hac maximè de causa quod qui id sanctissimum negotium procurandum suscepere nihil admiscuerunt novi, nihil sui, sed ad meliora sæcula intentam habuere oculorum aciem. Ep. 966 (1688).

But he could not be long in perceiving that this union of Protestant churches was impossible from the very independence of their original constitution. He saw that there could be no practicable reunion except with Rome itself, nor that, except on an acknowledgment of her superiority. From the year 1640 his letters are full of sanguine hopes that this delusive vision would be realised. He still expected some concession on the other side; but, as usual, would have lowered his terms according to the pertinacity of his adversaries, if indeed they were still to be called his adversaries. He now published his famous annotations on Cassander, and the other tracts mentioned in the text, to which they gave rise. In these he defends almost everything we deem popery, such as transubstantiation (Opera Theologica, iv. 619), stooping to all the nonsensical evasions of a spiritual mutation of substance and the like; the authority of the pope (p. 642), the celibacy of the clergy (p. 645), the communion in one kind (ibid), and in fact is less of a Protestant than Cassander. In his epistles he declares himself decidedly in favour of purgatory, as at least a probable doctrine, p. 930. In these writings he seems to have had the countenance of Richelieu. Cardinalis quin ἑνωσεως negotium in Gallia successurum sit, dubitare se negat. Epist. sec. series, p. 912. Cardinalis Ricelianus rem successuram putat. Ita certè loquitur multis. Archiepiscopus Cantuariensis pœnas dat honestissimi consilii, quod et aliis bonis sæpe evenit, p. 911. Grotius is now run away with by vanity, and fancies all will go according to his wish, showing much ignorance of the real state of things. He was left by some from whom he had entertained hopes, and thought the Dutch Arminians timid. Vossius ut video, præ metu, forte et ex Anglia sic jussus, auxilium suum mihi subtrahit, p. 908. Salmasius adhuc in consiliis fluctuat. Est in religionis rebus suæ parti addictior quam putabatur. P. 912. De Episcopio doleo; est vir magni ingenii et probus, sed nimium cupidus alendæ partis. But it is probable that he had misinterpreted some language of these great men, who contemplated with regret the course he was taking, which could be no longer a secret. De Grotii ad papam defectione, a French protestant of some eminence for learning writes, tanquam re certa, quod fama istuc distulit, verum non est. Sed non sine magno metu eum aliquid istiusmodi meditantem et conantem quotidie inviti videmus. Inter protestantes cujuslibet ordinis nomen ejus ascribi vetat, quod eos atrocius sugillavit in Appendice de Antichristo, et Annotatis ad Cassandri consultationem. Sarravii Epistolæ, p. 58 (1642). And again he expresses his strong disapprobation of one of the later treatises. Verissimè dixit ille qui primus dixit Grotium papissare. P. 196. See also pp. 31, 53.

In 1642 Grotius had become wholly averse to the Reformation. He thought it had done more harm than good, especially by the habit of interpreting everything on the papal side for the worse. Malos mores qui mansere corrigi æquum est. Sed an non hoc melius successurum fuerit, si quisque semet repurgans pro repurgatione aliorum preces ad Deum tulisset, et principes et episcopi correctionem desiderantes, non rupta compage, per concilia universalia in id laborassent. Dignum est de quo cogitetur, p. 938. Auratus, as he calls him, that is, D’Or, a sort of chaplain to Grotius, became a Catholic about this time. The other only says—Quod Auratus fecit, idem fecit antehac vir doctissimus Petrus Pithæus; idem constituerat facere Casaubonus si in Gallia mansisset, affirmavit enim id inter alios etiam Cordesio. p. 939. Of Casaubon he says afterwards: Casaubonus multo saniores putabat Catholicos Galliæ quam Carentonianos. Anglos autem episcopos putabat a schismatis culpa posse absolvi, p. 940. Every successive year saw him now draw nearer to Rome. Reperio autem quicquid communiter ab ecclesia occidentali quæ Romanæ cohæret recipitur, idem reperiri apud Patres veteres Græcos et Latinos, quorum communionem retinendam esse vix quisquam neget. Si quid præter hoc est, id ad liberas doctorum opinationes pertinet; in quibus suum quis judicium sequi potest, et communionis jus non amittere, p. 958. Episcopius was for limiting articles of faith to the creed, but Grotius did not agree with this, and points out that it would not preserve uniformity. Quam multa jam sunt de sacramentis, de ecclesiarum regimine, in quibus, vel concordiæ causa, certi aliquid observari debet. Alioqui compages ecclesiæ tantopere nobis commendata retineri non potest, p. 941. It would be endless to quote every passage tending to the same result. Finally, in a letter to his brother in Holland, he expresses his hope that Wytenbogart, the respectable patriarch of Arminianism, would turn his attention to the means of restoring unity to the church. Velim D. Wytenbogardum, ubi permiserit valetudo, nisi id jam fecerit, scriptum aliquid facere de necessitate restituendæ in ecclesia unitatis, et quibus modis id fieri possit. Multi pro remedio monstrant, si necessaria a non necessariis separentur, in non necessariis sive creditu sive factu relinquatur libertas. At non minor est controversia, quæ sint necessaria, quam quæ sint vera. Indicia, aiunt, sunt in scripturis. At certè etiam circa illa loca variat interpretatio. Quare nondem video an quid sit melius, quam ea quæ ad fidem et bona opera nos ducunt retinere, ut sunt in ecclesia catholica; puto enim in iis esse quæ sunt necessaria ad salutem. In cæteris ea quæ conciliorum auctoritate, aut veturum consensu recepta sunt, interpretari eo modo quo interpretati sunt, illi qui commodissimè sunt locuti, quales semper aliqui in quaque materia facile reperientur. Si quis id a se impetrare non possit, ut taceat, nec propter res de quibus certus non est, sed opinationem tantum quandam habet turbet unitatem ecclesiæ necessariam, quæ nisi retinetur ubi est, et restituitur ubi non est, omnia ibunt in pejus, p. 960. (Nov. 1648.) Wytenbogard replied very well: Si ita se res habet, ut indicia necessariorum et non necessariorum in scriptura reperiri nequeant, sed quæri debeant in auctoritate conciliorum aut veterum consensu, eo modo quo interpretati sunt illi, qui commodissimè locuti sunt, prout Excellentia tua videtur existimare, nescio an viginti quinque anni, etiamsi illi mihi adhuc restarent, omnesque exigui ingenii corporisque mei vires in mea essent potestate, sufficerent ut maturo cum judicio perlegam et expendam omnia quæ eo pertinent. This letter is in the Epistolæ præstantium et eruditorum virorum edited by Limborch in 1683, p. 826. And Grotius’s answer is in the same collection. It is that of a man who throws off a mask he had reluctantly worn. There was in fact no other means of repelling Wytenbogard’s just observation on the moral impossibility of tracing for ourselves the doctrine of the Catholic church as an historical inquiry. Grotius refers him to a visible standard. Quare considerandum est, an nonfacilius et æquius sit, quoniam doctrina de gratia, de libero arbitrio, necessitate fidei bonorumque operum obtinuit in ecclesia quæ pro se habet universale regimen et ordinem successionis, privatos se in aliis accommodare, pacis causa, iis quæ universaliter sunt recepta, sive ea aptissimis explicationibus recipiendo, sive tacendo, quam corpus illud catholicum ecclesiæ se in articulo tolerantiæ accommodare debere uniuscujusque considerationibus et placitis. Exempli gratiâ: Catholica ecclesia nemini præscribit ut precetur pro mortuis, aut opem precum sanctorum vita hac defunctorum imploret: solummodo requirit, ne quis morem adeo antiquum et generalem condemnet. The church does, in fact, rather more than he insinuates, though less than Protestants generally fancy.

I have trespassed on the patience of the general reader in this very long note, which may be thought a superfluous digression in a work of mere literature. But the epistles of Grotius are not much read; nor are they in many private libraries. The index is also very indifferent, so that without the trouble I have taken of going over the volume, it might be difficult to find these curious passages. I ought to mention that Burigny has given references to most of them, but with few quotations. Le Clerc, in the first volume of the Bibliothèque Universelle, reviewing the epistles of Grotius, slides very gently over his bias towards popery; and I have met with well-informed persons in England, who had no conception of the lengths to which this had led him. It is of far more importance, and the best apology I can offer for so prolix a note, to perceive by what gradual, but, as I think, necessary steps, he was drawn onward by his excessive respect for antiquity, and by his exaggerated notions of Catholic unity, preferring at last to err with the many, than to be right with the few. If Grotius had learned to look the hydra schism in the face, he would have had less fear of its many heads, and at least would have dreaded to cut them off at the neck, lest the source of life should be in one of them.

That Grotius really thought as the fathers of Trent thought upon all points in dispute cannot be supposed. It was not in the power of a man of his learning and thoughtfulness to divest himself of his own judgment, unless he had absolutely subjugated his reason to religious awe, which was far from being the case. His aim was to search for subtle interpretations, by which he might profess to believe the words of the church, though conscious that his sense was not that of the imposers. It is needless to say that this is not very ingenuous; and even if it could be justifiable relatively to the person, would be an abandonment of the multitude to any superstition and delusion which might be put upon them. Via ad pacem expeditissima mihi videtur, si doctrina, communi consensu recepta, commodè explicetur, mores, sanæ doctrinæ adversantes, quantum fieri potest, tollantur, et in rebus mediis accommodet se pars ingenio totius. Epist., 1524. Peace was his main object; if toleration had been as well understood as it was afterwards, he would perhaps have compromised less.

Baxter having published a Treatise of the Grotian Religion, wherein he imputed to Grotius this inclination towards the church of Rome, Archbishop Bramhall replied, after the Restoration, with a vindication of Grotius, in which he does not say much to the purpose, and seems ignorant of the case. The epistles indeed, were not then published.

Besides the passages in these epistles above quoted, the reader who wishes to follow this up may consult Epist. 1108, 1460, 1561, 1570, 1706 of the first series; and in the second series, p. 875, 896, 940, 943, 958, 960, 975. But there are also many to which I have made no reference. I do not quote authorities for the design of Grotius to have declared himself a convert, if he had lived to return to France, though they are easily found; because the testimony of his writing is far stronger than any anecdote.

14. But if any one could put a different interpretation on these works, which would require a large measure of prejudice, the epistles of Grotius afford such evidence of his secession from the Protestant side, as no reasonable understanding can reject. These are contained in a large folio volume, published in 1687, and amount to 1766 of one series, and 744 of another. I have quoted the former, for distinction’s sake, by the number, and the latter by the page. Few, we may presume, have taken the pains to go through them, in order to extract all the passages that bear upon this subject. It will be found that he began, as I have just said, by extolling the authority of the Catholic or universal church, and its exclusive right to establish creeds [Pg 433] of faith. He some time afterwards ceased to frequent the Protestant worship, but long kept his middle path, and thought it enough to inveigh against the Jesuits and the exorbitancies of the see of Rome. But his reverence for the writers of the fourth and fifth centuries grew continually stronger; he learned to protest against the privilege, claimed by the reformers, of interpreting Scripture otherwise than the consent of the ancients had warranted; visions, first of an union between the Lutheran and English churches, and then of one with Rome itself, floated before his eyes; he sought religious peace with the latter, as men seek it in opposition to civil government, by the redress of grievances and the subsequent restoration of obedience. But in proportion as he perceived how little of concession was to be obtained, he grew himself more ready to concede; and though at one time he seems to deny the infallibility of the church, and at another would not have been content with placing all things in the state they were before the council of Trent, he came ultimately to think such a favourable sense might be put on all the Tridentine decrees, as to render them compatible with the Confession of Augsburg.

15. From the year 1640 his course seems to have been accelerated; he intimates no disapprobation of those who went over to Rome; he found, as he tells us, that whatever was generally received in the church of Rome, had the authority of those Greek and Latin fathers, whose communion no one would have refused; and at length, in a remarkable letter to Wytenbogart, bearing date in 1644, he puts it as worthy to be considered, whether it would not be more reasonable for private men who find the most essential doctrines in a church of an universal hierarchy and a legitimate succession, to wave their differences with it for the sake of peace, by putting the best interpretations they can, only keeping silence on their own opinions, than that the Catholic church should accommodate itself to the separate judgment of such men. Grotius had already ceased to speak of the Arminians as if he was one of themselves, though with much respect for some of their leaders.

16. Upon a dispassionate examination of all these testimonies, we can hardly deem it an uncertain question whether Grotius, if his life had been prolonged, would have taken the easy leap that still remained; and there is some positive evidence of his design to do so. But, dying on a journey and in a protestant country, this avowed declaration was never made. Fortunately indeed for his glory, since his new friends would speedily have put his conversion to the proof, and his latter years might have been spent, like those of Lipsius, in defending legendary miracles, or in waging war against the honoured dead of the Reformation. He did not sufficiently remember that a silent neutrality is never indulged to a suspicious proselyte.

17. It appears to me, nevertheless, that Grotius was very far from having truly subjected his understanding to the church of Rome. The whole bent of his mind was to effect an exterior union among Christians; and for this end he did not hesitate to recommend equivocal senses of words, convenient explanations, and respectful silence. Listening attentively, if I may be allowed such a metaphor, we hear the chaunt of the Æsculapian cock in all he has written for the catholic church. He first took up his reverence for antiquity, because he found antiquity unfavourable to the doctrine of Calvin. His antipathy to this reformer and to his followers led him on to an admiration of the episcopal succession, the organized hierarchy, the ceremonial and liturgical institutions, the high notions of sacramental rites, which he found in the ancient church, and which Luther and Zuingle had cast away. He became imbued with the notion of unity as essential to the catholic church; but he never seems to have gone the length of abandoning his own judgment, or of asserting any positive infallibility to the decrees of man. For it is manifest that, if the councils of Nice or of Trent were truly inspired, it would be our business to inquire what they meant themselves, not to put the most convenient interpretations, nor to search out for some author or another who may have strained their language to our own opinion. The precedent of Grotius, therefore, will not serve those who endeavour to bind the reason of the enlightened part of mankind, which he respected like his own. Two predominant ideas seem to have swayed the mind of this great man in the very gradual transition we have indicated; one, his extreme reverence for antiquity and for the consent of the catholic church; the other, his Erastian principles as to the authority of the civil magistrate in matters of religion. Both conspired to give him an abhorrence of the ‘liberty of prophesying,’ the right of private men to promulgate tenets inconsistent with established faith. In friendly conversation or correspondence, even perhaps; with due [Pg 434] reserve, in Latin writings, much might be indulged to the learned, room was to be found for an Erasmus and a Cassander; or, if they would themselves consent, for an Episcopius and a Wytenbogart, at least for a Montagu and a Laud; but no pretext was ever to justify a separation. The scheme of Grotius is, in a modified degree, much the same as that of Hobbes.

Calixtus. 18. In the Lutheran church we find an eminent contemporary of Grotius, who may be reckoned his counterpart in the motives which influenced him to seek for an entire union of religious parties, though resembling him far more in his earlier opinions, than in those to which he ultimately arrived. This was George Calixtus, of the university of Helmstadt, a theologian, the most tolerant, mild, and catholic in his spirit, whom the Confession of Augsburg had known since Melanchthon. This university indeed, which had never subscribed the Form of Concord, was already distinguished by freedom of inquiry, and its natural concomitant, a large and liberal spirit. But in his own church generally, Calixtus found as rigid schemes of orthodoxy, and perhaps a more invidious scrutiny into the recesses of private opinion, than in that of Rome, with a less extensive basis of authority. The dream of good men in this age, the reunion of Christian churches in a common faith, and, meanwhile, the tolerance of differences, were ever the aim of Calixtus. But he fell, like the Anglican divines, into high notions of primitive tradition, placing, according to Eichhorn and Mosheim, the unanimity of the first six centuries by the side of Scripture itself. He was assailed by the adherents of the Form of Concord with aggravated virulence and vulgarity; he was accused of being a papist and a Calvinist, reproaches equally odious in their eyes, and therefore fit to be heaped on his head; the inconsistency of calumnies being no good reason with bigots against uttering them.[71]

[71] Eichhorn, vol. vi., part ii., p. 20. Mosheim. Biogr. Univ.

His attempts at concord. 19. In the treatise, published long after his death, in 1697, De tolerantia Reformatorum circa quæstiones inter ipsos et Augustanam confessionem professes controversas consultatio, it is his object to prove that the Calvinists held no such tenets as should exclude them from Christian communion. He does not deny or extenuate the reality of their differences from the Confession of Augsburg. The Lutherans, though many of them, he says, had formerly maintained the absolute decrees of predestination, were now come round to the doctrine of the first four centuries.[72] And he admits that the Calvinists, whatever phrases they may use, do not believe a true and substantial presence in the Eucharist.[73] But neither of these errors if such they are, he takes to be fundamental. In a shorter and more valuable treatise, entitled Desiderium et studium concordiæ, ecclesiasticæ, Calixtus proposes some excellent rules for allaying religious heats. But he leans far too much towards the authority of tradition. Every church, he says, which affirms what others deny, is bound to prove its affirmation; first by Scripture, in which whatever is contained must be out of controversy, and secondly (as Scripture bears witness to the church that it is the pillar and foundation of truth, and especially the primitive church which is called that of the saints and martyrs), by the unanimous consent of the ancient church; above all, where the debate is among learned men. The agreement of the church is therefore a sufficient evidence of Christian doctrine, not that of individual writers, who are to be regarded rather so far as they testify the [Pg 435] catholic doctrine, than as they propound their own.[74] This deference to an imaginary perfection in the church of the fourth or fifth century must have given a great advantage to that of Rome, which is not always weak on such ground, and doubtless serves to account for those frequent desertions to her banner, especially in persons of very high rank, which afterwards occurred in Germany.

[72] Nostri e quibus olim multi ibidem absolutum decretum approbarunt, paulatim ad sententiam primorum quatuor sæculorum, nempe decretum juxta præscientiam factum, receperunt. Qua in re multum egregiè laboravit Ægidius Hunnius. Difficile autem est hanc sententiam ita proponere, ne quid Pelagianismo habere affine videatur, p. 14.

[73] Si tamen non tam quid loquantur quam quid sentiant attendimus, certum est eos veri corporis et sanguinis secundum substantiam acceptorum præsentiam non admittere. Rectius autem fuerit utramque partem simpliciter et ingenuè, quod sentit, profiteri, quam alteram alteri ambiguis loquendi formulis imponere. Qualem conciliandi rationem inierunt olim Philippus et Bucerus, nempe ut præscriberentur formulæ, quarum verba utraque pars amplecteretur, sed singulæ suo sensu acciperent ac interpretarentur. Quem conatum, quamvis ex pio eoque ingente concordiæ desiderio et studio profectum, nulla successûs felicitas excepit. p. 70. This observation is very just in the abstract; but in the early period of the reformation, there were strong reasons for evading points of difference, in the hope that the truth would silently prevail in the course of time. We, however, who come later, are to follow the advice of Calixtus, and, in judging as well as we can, of the opinions of men, must not altogether regard their words. Upon no theological controversy, probably, has there been so much of studied ambiguity as on that of the eucharist. Calixtus passes a similar censure on the equivocations of some great men of the preceding century in his other treatise mentioned in the text.

[74] Consensu itaque primæ ecclesiæ ex symbolis et scriptis manifesto doctrina Christiana rectè confirmatur. Intelligimus autem doctrinam fundamentalem et necessariam, non quasvis appendices et quæstiones, aut etiam quorundam scripturæ locorum interpretationes. De talibus enim unanimis et universalis consensus non poterit erui vel proferri. Et magis apud plerosque spectandum est, quid tanquam communem ecclesiæ sententiam proponunt, quam quomodo eam confirmant aut demonstrant, p. 85. I have not observed in the little I know of Calixtus, any proof of his inclination toward the church of Rome.

Gerard Vossius, as Episcopius wrote to Vorstius in 1615, declared in his inaugural lecture as professor of theology, his determination to follow the consent of antiquity, in explicatione Scripturarum et controversiarum diremtionibus diligenter examinare et expendere catholicum et antiquissimum consensum, cum sine dubio illud quod a pluribus et antiquissimis dictum est, verissimum sit. Epist. Virorum præstantium, p. 6.

High-church party in England. 20. The tenets of some of those who have been called High-church Anglicans may in themselves be little different from those of Grotius and Calixtus. But the spirit in which they have been conceived is altogether opposite. The one is exclusive, intolerant, severe, dogmatical, insisting on uniformity of faith as well as of exterior observances; the other catholic in outward profession, charitable in sentiment, and in fact one mode, though a mode as imprudent as it was oblique, in which the latitudinarian principle was manifested. The language both of Grotius and Calixtus bears this out, and this ought closely to be observed, lest we confound the real laxity of one school with the rigid orthodoxy of the other. One had it in view to reconcile discordant communions by mutual concession, and either by such explication of contrarieties as might make them appear less incompatible with outward unity, or by an avowed tolerance of their profession within the church; the other would permit nothing but submission to its own authority: it loved to multiply rather than to extinguish the risks of dissent, in order to crush it more effectually; the one was a pacific negotiator, the other a conquering tyrant.

Daillé on the right use of the Fathers. 21. It was justly alarming to sincere protestants, that so many brilliant ornaments of their party should either desert to the hostile side, or do their own so much injury by taking up untenable ground.[75] Nothing, it appeared to reflecting men, could be trusted to the argument from antiquity: whatever was gained in the controversy on a few points was lost upon those of the first importance. It was become the only secure course to overthrow the tribunal. Daillé, himself one of the most learned in this patristic erudition whom the French reformed church possessed, was the first who boldly attacked the new school of historical theology in their own stronghold, not occupying their fortress, but razing it to the ground. The design of his celebrated Treatise concerning the right use of the Fathers, published in 1628, is, in his own words, to show, “that they cannot be the judges of the controversies in religion at this day between the papist and the protestant,” nor, by parity of reasoning, of many others; “1. Because it is, if not an impossible, yet at least a very difficult thing to find out what their sense hath been touching the same. 2. Because that their sense and judgment of these things, supposing it to be certainly and clearly understood, not being infallible, and without all danger of error, cannot carry with it a sufficient authority for the satisfying the understanding.”

[75] It was a poor consolation for so many losses, that the famous Antonio de Dominis, archbishop of Spoleto, came over to England, and by his books de Republica Ecclesiastica, as well as by his conversation, seemed an undisguised enemy to the church of Rome. The object of his work is to prove that the pope has no superiority over other bishops. James gave de Dominis the deanery of Windsor and a living; but whether he, strictly speaking, belonged to the church of England, I do not remember to have read. Preferments were bestowed irregularly in that age. He returned, however, to the ancient fold; but did not avoid suspicion, being thrown into prison at Rome; and after his death, the imputations of heresy against him so much increased that his body was dug up and burned. Neither party has been ambitious to claim this vain and insincere, though clever prelate.

22. The arguments adduced by Daillé in support of the former of these two positions, and which occupy the first book of the treatise, are drawn from the paucity of early Christian writers, from the nature of the subjects treated by them having little relation to the present controversies, from [Pg 436] the suspicions of forgery and interpolation affecting many of their works, the difficulty of understanding their idioms and figurative expressions, the habit of some of the fathers to say what they did not believe, their changes of mind, the peculiar and individual opinions of some among them, affording little evidence of the doctrine of the church; finally, the probability that many who differed from those called the fathers, and whose writings have not descended to us, may have been of as good authority as themselves.

23. In the second book, which in fact has been very much anticipated in the first, he shows that neither the testimony nor the doctrine of the fathers is infallible (by which word he must be understood to mean that it raises but a slight presumption of truth), proving this by their errors and contradictions. Thus he concludes that, though their negative authority is considerable, since they cannot be presumed ignorant of any material doctrine of religion, we are to be very slow in drawing affirmative propositions from their writings, and much more so in relying upon them as undoubted verities.

24. It has been said of this treatise on the right use of the fathers, that its author had pretty well proved they were of no use at all. This indeed is by no means the case, but it has certainly diminished not only the deference which many have been wont to pay to the opinion of the primitive writers, but what is still more contended for, the value of their testimony, whether as to matters of fact, or as to the prevailing doctrines of the Christian church. Nothing can be more certain, though in the warmth of controversy men are apt to disregard it, than that a witness, who deposes in any one case what can be disproved, is not entitled to belief in other assertions which we have no means of confuting, unless it be shown that the circumstances of his evidence render it more trust-worthy in these points than we have found it before. Hence, such writers as Justin and Irenæus ought not, except with great precaution, to be quoted in proof at all, or at least with confidence; their falsehood, not probably wilful, in assertions that have been brought to a test rendering their testimony very precarious upon any other points. Daillé, it may be added, uses some circumspection, as the times, if not his own disposition, required in handling this subject, keeping chiefly in view the controversies between the Romish and protestant churches: nor does he ever indulge in that tone of banter or acrimony which we find in Whitby, Barbeyrac, Jortin, and Middleton; and which must be condemned by every one who reflects that many of these writers exposed their lives, and some actually lost them, in the maintenance and propagation of Christianity.

25. This well-timed and important book met with a good reception from some in England, though it must have been very uncongenial to the ruling party. |Chillingworth’s Religion of Protestants.| It was extolled and partly translated by Lord Falkland; and his two distinguished friends, Chillingworth and Hales, found in it the materials of their own bold revolt against church authority. They were both Arminians, and, especially the former, averse in all respects to the Puritan school. But like Episcopius, they scorned to rely, as on these points they might have done, on what they deemed so precarious and inconclusive as the sentiments of the fathers. Chillingworth, as is well known, had been induced to embrace the Romish religion, on the usual ground that a succession of infallible pastors, that is, a collective hierarchy, by adhering to whom alone we could be secure from error, was to be found in that church. He returned again to the protestant religion on being convinced that no such infallible society could be found. And a Jesuit, by name Knott, having written a book to prove that unrepenting protestants could not be saved, Chillingworth published, in 1637, his famous answer: The Religion of Protestants a safe Way to Salvation. In this he closely tracks the steps of his adversary, replying to every paragraph and almost every sentence.

Character of this work. 26. Knott is by no means a despicable writer, he is concise, polished, and places in an advantageous light the great leading arguments of his church. Chillingworth, with a more diffuse and less elegant style, is greatly superior in impetuosity and warmth. In his long parenthetical periods, and in those of other old English writers, in his copiousness, which is never empty or tautological, there is an inartificial eloquence springing from strength of intellect and sincerity of feeling, that cannot fail to impress the reader. But his chief excellence is the close reasoning, which avoids every dangerous admission and yields to no ambiguousness of language. He perceived and maintained with great courage, considering the times in which he wrote and the temper of those he was not unwilling [Pg 437] to keep as friends, his favourite tenet, that all things necessary to be believed are clearly laid down in Scripture. Of tradition, which many of his contemporary protestants were becoming as prone to magnify as their opponents, he spoke very slightingly; not denying of course a maxim often quoted from Vincentius Lirinensis, that a tradition strictly universal and aboriginal must be founded in truth, but being assured that no such could be shown; and that what came nearest, both in antiquity and in evidence of catholic reception, to the name of apostolical, were doctrines and usages rejected alike by all denominations of the church in modern times.[76] It will be readily conceived, that his method of dealing with the controversy is very different from that of Laud in his treatise against Fisher; wherein we meet chiefly with disputes on passages in the fathers, as to which, especially when they are not quoted at length, it is impossible that any reader can determine for himself. The work of Chillingworth may at least be understood and appreciated without reference to any other; the condition, perhaps, of real superiority in all productions of the mind.

[76] “If there were anything unwritten which had come down to us with as full and universal a tradition as the unquestioned books of canonical Scripture, that thing should I believe as well as the Scripture; but I have long sought for some such thing, and yet I am to seek; nay, I am confident no one point in controversy between papists and protestants can go in upon half so fair cards, for to gain the esteem of an apostolic tradition, as those things which are now decried on all hands; I mean the opinion of the Chiliasts and the communicating infants.” Chap. 3, § 82. He dilates upon this insecurity of tradition in some detached papers, subjoined to the best editions of his work. Chillingworth might have added an instance if he had been writing against Romanising Anglicans. Nothing can come so close to the foolish rule above-mentioned, as the observation of celibacy by bishops and priests, not being married before their ordination, which, till the time of Luther, was, as far as we have reason to believe, universally enjoined in the church; no one, at least, has ever alleged an authority to the contrary. Yet those who talk most of the rule of Vincentius Lirinensis set aside without compunction the only case in which we can truly say that it may with some show of probability be applied. Omnia vincit amor.

27. Chillingworth was, however, a man versed in patristical learning, by no means less so, probably, than Laud. But he had found so much uncertainty about this course of theological doctrine, seducing as it generally is to the learned, “fathers,” as he expresses it, “being set against fathers, and councils against councils,” that he declares, in a well-known passage, the Bible exclusively to be the religion of protestants; and each man’s own reason to be, as from the general tenor of his volume it appears that he held it, the interpreter of the Bible.[77] It was a natural consequence that he was a strenuous advocate not so much for toleration of separate churches, as for such an “ordering of the public service of God, that all who believe the Scripture and live according to it, might, without scruple or hypocrisy or protestation against any part, join in it;”[78] a scheme when practicable, as it could not possibly be often rendered, far more eligible than the separation of sects, and hence the favourite object of Grotius and Taylor, as well as of Erasmus and Cassander. And in a remarkable and eloquent passage, Chillingworth declares that “protestants are inexcusable, if they did offer violence to other men’s consciences;” which Knott had said to be notorious, as in fact it was, and as Chillingworth ought more explicitly to have admitted.[79] “Certainly,” he observes in another place, “if protestants are faulty in this matter [of claiming authority], it is for doing it too much and not too little. This presumptuous imposing of the senses of men upon the words of God, the special senses of men upon the general words of God, and laying them upon men’s consciences together, under the equal penalty of death and damnation, this vain conceit that we can speak of the things of God better than in the words of God; this deifying our own interpretations and tyrannous enforcing them upon others; this restraining of the word of God from that latitude and generality, and the understandings of men from that liberty wherein Christ and the apostles left them, is and hath been the only fountain of all the schisms of the church, and that which [Pg 438] makes them immortal;[80] the common incendiary of Christendom, and that which tears in pieces not the coat but the bowels and members of Christ. Take away these walls of separation and all will quickly be one. Take away this persecuting, burning, cursing, damning of men for not subscribing the words of men as the words of God; require of Christians only to believe Christ, and to call no man master but him only; let those leave claiming infallibility that have no title to it, and let them that in their words disclaim it, disclaim it also in their actions. In a word, take away tyranny,” &c.[81]

[77] This must always be understood with the condition, that the reason itself shall be competently enlightened: if Chillingworth meant more than this, he carried his principle too far, as others have done. The case is parallel in jurisprudence, medicine, mechanics, and every human science: any one man, primâ facie, may be a competent judge, but all men are not so. It is hard to prove that there is any different rule for theology; but parties will always contend for extremes; for the rights of bigots to think for others, and the rights of fools to think for themselves.

[78] Chap. 3, § 81.

[79] Chap. 5, § 96.

[80] “This persuasion,” he says in a note, “is no singularity of mine, but the doctrine which I have learned from divines of great learning and judgment. Let the reader be pleased to peruse the 7th book of Acontius de Stratagematibus Satanæ, and Zanchius his last oration delivered by him after the composing of the discord between him and Amerbachius, and he shall confess as much.”

[81] Chap. 4, § 17.

28. It is obvious that in this passage, and indeed throughout the volume, Chillingworth contravenes the prevailing theories of the Anglican church, full as distinctly as those of the Roman. He escaped however unscathed by the censure of that jealous hierarchy; his private friendship with Laud, the lustre of his name, the absence of factious and sectarian connections, and still more perhaps the rapid gathering of the storms that swept both parties away, may be assigned as his protection. In later times his book obtained a high reputation; he was called the immortal Chillingworth; he was the favourite of all the moderate and the latitudinarian writers, of Tillotson, Locke, and Warburton. Those of opposite tenets, when they happen to have read his book, can do nothing else but condemn its tendency.

Hales on Schism. 29. A still more intrepid champion in the same cause was John Hales; for his little tract on Schism, not being in any part directed against the church of Rome, could have nothing to redeem the strong protestations against church authority, “which,” as he bluntly expresses it, “is none;” words that he afterwards slightly qualified. The aim of Hales, as well as of Grotius, Calixtus, and Chillingworth, was to bring about a more comprehensive communion; but he went still farther; his language is rough and audacious;[82] his theology in some of his other writings has a scent of Racow; and though these crept slowly to light, there was enough in the earliest to make us wonder at the high name, the epithet Ever-memorable, which he obtained in the English church.

[82] “I must, for my own part, confess that councils and synods not only may and have erred, but considering the means how they are managed, it were a great marvel if they did not err, for what men are they of whom those great meetings do consist? Are they the best, the most learned, the most virtuous, the most likely to walk uprightly? No, the greatest, the most ambitious, and many times men of neither judgment nor learning; such are they of whom these bodies do consist. Are these men in common equity likely to determine for truth?”—Vol. i., p. 60, edit. 1765.

“Universality is such a proof of truth as truth itself is ashamed of; for universality is but a quainter and a trimmer name to signify the multitude. Now human authority at the strongest is but weak, but the multitude is the weakest part of human authority; it is the great patron of error, most easily abused and most hardly disabused. The beginning of error may be and mostly is from private persons, but the maintainer and continuer of error is the multitude. Private persons first beget errors in the multitude and make them public; and publicness of them begets them again in private persons. It is a thing which our common experience and practice acquaints us with, that when some private persons have gained authority with the multitude, and infused some error into them and made it public, the publicness of the error gains authority to it, and interchangeably prevails with private persons to entertain it. The most singular and strongest part of human authority is properly in the wisest and most virtuous; and those I trow are not the most universal.”—iii. 164.

The treatise on Schism, from which these last passages are not extracted, was printed at Oxford in 1642, with some animadversions by the editor. Wood’s Athenæ, iii. 414.

Controversies on grace and free will. Augustinian scheme. 30. It is unnecessary to say that few disputes in theology have been so eagerly conducted, so extensively ramified, as those which relate to the free will of man, and his capacity of turning himself towards God. In this place nothing more will be expected than a brief statement of the principal question, doing no injustice by a tone of partiality to either side. All shades of opinion, as it seems, may be reduced to two, which have long divided and will long divide the Christian world. According to one of these, the corrupt nature of man is incapable of exerting any power towards a state of acceptance with God, or even of willing it with an earnest desire, until excited by preventing (præveniens) grace; which grace is vouchsafed to some only, and is called free, because God is not [Pg 439] limited by any respect of those persons to whom he accords this gift. Whether those who are thus called by the influence of the Spirit, are so irresistibly impelled to it, that their perseverance in the faith and good works which are the fruits of their election, may surely be relied upon, or, on the other hand, may either at first obdurately resist the divine impulses, or finally swerve from their state of grace, is another question, upon which those who agree in the principal doctrine have been at variance. It is also controverted among those who belong to this class of theologians, whether the election thus freely made out of mankind depends upon an eternal decree of predestination, or upon a sentence of God following the fall of man. And a third difference relates to the condition of man after he has been aroused by the Spirit from a state of entire alienation from God; some holding that the completion as well as commencement of the work of conversion is wholly owing to the divine influence, while others maintain a co-operation of the will, so that the salvation of a sinner may, in some degree, be ascribed to himself. But the essential principle of all whom we reckon in this category of divines is the necessity of preventing grace, or, in other words, that it is not in the power of man to do any act, in the first instance, towards his own salvation. This, in some or other of its modifications, used to be deemed the orthodox scheme of doctrine; it was established in the Latin church by the influence of Augustin, it was generally held by the schoolmen, by most of the early reformers, and seems to be inculcated by the decrees of the council of Trent, as much as by the articles of the church of England. In a loose and modern acceptation of the word, it often goes by the name of Calvinism, which may perhaps be less improper, if we do not use the term in an exclusive sense, but, if it is meant to imply a particular relation to Calvin, leads to controversial chicane, and a misstatement of the historical part of the question.

Semi-pelagian hypothesis. 31. An opposite class of theological reasoners belong to what is sometimes called the Semi-pelagian school. These concur with the former in the necessity of assistance from the Spirit to the endeavours of man towards subduing his evil tendencies, and renewing his heart in the fear and love of God, but conceive that every sinner is capable of seeking this assistance, which will not be refused him, and consequently of beginning the work of conversion by his own will. They therefore either deny the necessity of preventing grace, except such as is exterior, or, which comes effectively to the same thing, assert that it is accorded in a sufficient measure to every one within the Christian church, whether at the time of baptism, or by some other means. They think the opposite opinion, whether founded on the hypothesis of an eternal decree or not, irreconcilable with the moral attributes of the Deity, and inconsistent with the general tenor of Scripture. The Semi-pelagian doctrine is commonly admitted to have been held by the Greek fathers; but the authority of Augustin, and the decisions of the Western church caused it to assume the character of a heresy. Some of the Scotists among the schoolmen appear to have made an approach to it, by their tenet of grace ex congruo. They thought that the human virtues and moral dispositions of unregenerate men were the predisposing circumstances which, by a sort of fitness, made them the objects of the divine goodness in according the benefits of his grace. Thus their own free will, from which it was admitted that such qualities and actions might proceed, would be the real, though mediate, cause of their conversion. But this was rejected by the greater part, who asserted the absolute irrespective freedom of grace, and appealed to experience for its frequent efficacy over those who had no inherent virtues to merit it.

Tenets of the reformers. 32. The early reformers, and none more than Luther, maintained the absolute passiveness of the human will, so that no good actions, even after conversion, could be ascribed in any proper sense to man, but altogether to the operation of the Spirit. Not only, however, Melanchthon espoused the Synergistic doctrine, but the Lutheran church, not in any symbolic book, but in the general tenets of its members, has been thought to have gone a good way towards Semi-pelagianism, or what passed for such with the more rigid party.[83] In the reformed church, on the contrary, the Supra-lapsarian tenets of Calvin, or the immutable decrees of election and reprobation from all eternity, were obviously incompatible [Pg 440] with any hypothesis that made the salvation of a sinner depend upon himself. But towards the close of the sixteenth century, these severer notions (which it may be observed by the way, had always been entirely rejected by the Anabaptists, and by some of greater name, such as Sebastian Castalio) began to be impugned by a few learned men. This led in England to what are called the Lambeth articles, drawn up by Whitgift, six of which assert the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, and three deny that of the Semi-pelagians. But these, being not quite approved by the queen, or by Lord Burleigh, were never received by authority in our church. There can nevertheless be no reasonable or even sincere doubt that Calvinism, in the popular sense, was at this time prevalent; even Hooker adopted the Lambeth articles with verbal modifications that do not affect their sense.

[83] Le Clerc says that the doctrine of Melanchthon, which Bossuet stigmatises as Semi-pelagian, is that of the council of Trent. Bibl. Choisie, v. 341. I should put a different construction upon the Tridentine canons; but of course my practice in these nice questions is not great.

Rise of Arminianism. 33. The few who, in England or in the reformed churches upon the Continent, embraced these novel and heterodox opinions, as they were then accounted, within the sixteenth century, excited little attention in comparison with James Arminius, who became professor of theology at Leyden in 1604. The controversy ripened in a few years; it was intimately connected, not, of course, in its own nature, but by some of those collateral influences which have so often determined the opinions of mankind, with the political relations between the Dutch clergy and the States of Holland, as it was afterwards with the still less theological differences of that government with its Stadtholder; it appealed, on one side to reason, on the other to authority and to force; an unequal conflict, till posterity restore the balance. Arminius died in 1609; he has left works on the main topics of debate; but in theological literature, the great chief of the Arminian or Remonstrant church is Simon Episcopius. |Episcopius.| The principles of Episcopius are more widely removed from those of the Augustinian school than the five articles, so well known as the leading tenets of Arminius, and condemned at the synod of Dort. Of this famous assembly it is difficult to speak in a few words. The copious history of Brandt is perhaps the best authority; though we must own that the opposite party have a right to be heard. We are here, however, on merely literary ground, and the proceedings of ecclesiastical synods are not strictly within any province of literary history.

His writings. 34. The works of Episcopius were collectively published in 1650, seven years after his death. They form two volumes in folio, and have been more than once reprinted. The most remarkable are the Confessio Remonstrantium, drawn up about 1624, the Apology for it against a censure of the opposite party, and what seems to have been a later work, and more celebrated, his Institutiones Theologicæ. These contain a new scheme of religion, compared with that of the established churches of Europe, and may justly be deemed the representative of the liberal or latitudinarian theology. For though the writings of Erasmus, Cassander, Castalio, and Acontius had tended to the same purpose, they were either too much weakened by the restraints of prudence, or too obscure and transitory, to draw much attention, or to carry any weight against the rigid and exclusive tenets which were sustained by power.

Their spirit and tendency. 35. The earlier treatises of Episcopius seem to speak on several subjects less unequivocally than the Theological Institutions; a reserve not perhaps to be censured, and which all parties have thought themselves warranted to employ, so long as either the hope of agreement with a powerful adversary, or of mitigating his severity, should remain. Hence the Confession of the Remonstrants explicitly states that they decline the Semi-pelagian controversy, contenting themselves with asserting that sufficient grace is bestowed on all who are called by the gospel, to comply with that divine call and obey its precepts.[84] They used a form of words, which might seem equivalent to the tenet of original sin, and they did not avoid or refuse that term. But Episcopius afterwards denies it, at least in the extended sense of most theologians, almost as explicitly as Jeremy Taylor.[85] It was common [Pg 441] in the seventeenth century to charge the Arminians, and especially Episcopius, with Socinianism. Bossuet, who seems to have quarrelled with all parties, and is neither Molinist nor Jansenist, Calvinist nor Arminian, never doubting that there is a firm footing between them, having attacked Episcopius and Grotius particularly for Semi-pelagianism and Socinianism, Le Clerc entered on their defence. But probably he would have passed with Bossuet, and hardly cared if he did pass, for a heretic, at least of the former denomination himself.[86]

[84] Episcop. Opera, vol. i., p. 64. De eo nemini litem movent Remonstrantes. I am not sure that my translation is right; but I think it is what they meant. By prevenient grace they seemed to have meant only the exterior grace of the gospel’s promulgation, which is equivalent to the Semi-pelagian scheme, p. 189. Grotius latterly came into this opinion, though he had disclaimed everything of the kind in his first dealings with theology. I have found the same doctrine in Calixtus; but I have preserved no reference as to either.

[85] Instit. Theolog., lib. iv., sect. v., c. 2. Corruptionis istius universalis nulla sunt indicia nec signa; imo non pauca sunt signa ex quibus colligitur naturam totam humanam sic corruptam non esse. The whole chapter, Ubi de peccato, quod vocant, originis agitur, et præcipua S. S. loca quibus inniti creditur, examinantur, appears to deny the doctrine entirely; but there may be some shades of distinction which have escaped me. Limborch (Theolog. Christiana lib. iii., c. 4.) allows it in a qualified sense.

[86] Bibl. Choisie, vol. v.

Great latitude allowed by them. 36. But the most distinguishing peculiarity in the writings of Episcopius was his reduction of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity far below the multitudinous articles of the churches; confining them to propositions which no Christian can avoid acknowledging without manifest blame; such, namely, wherein the subject, the predicate, and the connexion of the two are declared in Scripture by express or equivalent words.[87] He laid little stress on the authority of the church; notwithstanding the advantage he might have gained by the Anti-Calvinistic tenets of the fathers, admitting indeed the validity of the celebrated rule of Vincentius Lirinensis, in respect of tradition, which the upholders of primitive authority have always had in their mouths, but adding that it is utterly impossible to find any instance wherein it can be usefully applied.[88]

[87] Necessaria quæ scripturis continentur talia esse omnia, ut sine manifesta hominis culpa ignorari, negari aut in dubium vocari nequeant; quia videlicet tum subjectum, tum prædicatum, tum subjecti cum prædicato connexio necessaria in ipsis scripturis est, aut expressè, aut æquipollenter. Inst. Theol. l. iv., c. 6.

[88] Instit. Theolog. l. iv., sect. i., c. 15. Dupin says of Episcopius: Il n’a employé dans ses ouvrages que des passages de l’écriture sainte qu’il possédoit parfaitement. Il avoit aussi lu les Rabbins, mais on ne voit pas qu’il eût étudié les pères ni l’antiquité ecclésiastique. Il écrit nettement et méthodiquement, pose des principes, ne dissimule rien des objections qu’on peut faire contre, et y repond du mieux qu’il peut. On voit en lui une tolérance parfaite pour les Sociniens quoiqu’il se déclare contre eux; pour le parti d’Arminius, jamais il n’a eu de plus zélé et de plus habile défenseur, Bibliothèque des Auteurs séparés de l’Eglise Romaine,, ii. 495.

The life of Episcopius has been written by Limborch. Justice has been done to this eminent person and to the Arminian party which he led, in two recent English works, Nicholls’ Calvinism and Arminianism displayed, and Calder’s Life of Episcopius (1835). The latter is less verbose and more temperate than the former, and may be recommended, as a fair and useful production, to the general reader. Two theological parties in this country, though opposite in most things, are inveterately prejudiced against the Leyden school.

Progress of Arminianism. 37. The Arminian doctrine spread, as is well known, in despite of obloquy and persecution, over much of the protestant region of Europe. The Lutheran churches were already come into it; and in England there was a predisposing bias in the rulers of the church towards the authority of the primitive fathers, all of whom, before the age of Augustin, and especially the Greek, are acknowledged to have been on that side, which promoted the growth of this Batavian theology.[89] Even in France, it was not without considerable influence. |Cameron.| Cameron, a divine of Saumur, one of the chief protestant seminaries, devised a scheme of syncretism, which, notwithstanding much opposition, gained ground in those churches. It was supported by some highly distinguished for learning, Amyraut, Daillé, and Blondel. Of this scheme it is remarkable, that while in its literal purport it can only seem a modification of the Augustinian hypothesis, with an awkward and feeble admixture of the other, yet its tendency was to efface the former by degrees, and to slide into the Arminian hypothesis, which ultimately became almost general in the reformed church.

[89] General Vossius, in his Historia Pelagiana, the first edition of which, in 1618, was considerably enlarged afterwards, admitted that the first four centuries did not countenance the predestinarian scheme of Augustin. This gave offence in Holland; his book was publicly censured, he was excommunicated and forbidden to teach in public or private. Vossius, like others, remembered that he had a large family, and made, after some years, a sort of retractation, which, of course, did not express his real opinion. Le Clerc seems to doubt whether he acted from this motive or from what he calls simplicity, an expression for weakness. Vossius was, like his contemporary Usher, a man of much more learning than strength of intellect. Bibliothèque Universelle, xvii. 312, 329. Niceron, vol. xiii.

Rise of Jansenism. 38. These perplexities were not confined to protestant theology. The church of Rome, strenuous to maintain the tenets of Augustin, and [Pg 442] yet to condemn those who did the same, has been charged with exerting the plenitude of her infallibility to enforce the belief of an incoherent syncretism. She had condemned Baius, as giving too much efficacy to grace; she was on the point of condemning Molina for giving too little. Both Clement VIII. and Paul V. leaned to the Dominicans against the Jesuits in this controversy; but the great services and influence of the latter order prevented a decision which would have humbled them before so many adversaries. It may, nevertheless be said that the Semi-pelagian, or Arminian doctrine, though consonant to that of the Jesuits, was generally ill received in the church of Rome, till the opposite hypothesis, that of Augustin and Calvin, having been asserted by one man in more unlimited propositions than had been usual, a reaction took place, that eventually both gave an apparent triumph to the Molinist party, and endangered the church itself by the schism to which the controversy gave rise. The Augustinus of Jansenius, bishop of Ypres, was published in 1640, and in the very next year was censured at Rome. But, as the great controversy that sprung out of the condemnation of this book belongs more strictly to the next period, we shall defer it for the present.

Socinus. Volkelius. 39. The Socinian academy at Racow which drew to itself several proselytes from other countries, acquired considerable importance in theological literature after the beginning of the century. It was not likely that a sect, regarded with peculiar animosity, would escape in the general disposition of the catholic party in Poland to oppress the dissidents whom they had long feared; the Racovian institution was broken up and dispersed in 1638, though some of its members continued to linger in Poland for twenty years longer. The Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, published at Amsterdam (in the title-page, Irenopolis), in 1658, contains chiefly the works of Socinian theologians who belong to this first part of the century. The Prælectiones Theologicæ of Faustus Socinus himself, being published in 1609, after his death, fall within this class. They contain a systematic theology according to his scheme, and are praised by Eichhorn for the acuteness and depth they often display.[90] In these, among his other deviations from the general orthodoxy of Christendom, Socinus astonished mankind by denying the evidences of natural religion, resolving our knowledge even of a deity into revelation. This paradox is more worthy of those who have since adopted it, than of so acute a reasoner as Socinus.[91] It is, in fact, not very congenial to the spirit of his theology, which, rejecting all it thinks incompatible with reason as to the divine attributes, should at least have some established notions of them upon rational principles. The later Socinians, even those nearest to the time, did not follow their master in this part of his tenets.[92] The treatise of Volkelius, son-in-law of Socinus, De vera Religione, is chiefly taken from the latter. It was printed at Racow in 1633, and again in Holland in 1641; but most of the latter impression having been burned by order of the magistrates, it is a very scarce book, and copies were formerly sold at great prices. But the hangman’s bonfire has lost its charm, and forbidden books, when they happen to occur, are no longer in much request. The first book out of five in this volume of Volkelius, on the attributes of God, is by Crellius.

[90] Eichhorn, vi. part 1, p. 283. Simon, however, observes that Socinus knew little Greek or Hebrew, as he owns himself, though he pretends to decide questions which require a knowledge of these languages. I quote from Bibliothèque Universelle, vol. xxiii., p. 498.

[91] Tillotson, in one of his sermons (I cannot give the reference, writing from memory), dissents, as might be expected, from this denial of natural religion, but with such encomiums on Socinus as some archbishops would have avoided.

[92] Socinum sectæ ejus principes nuper Volkelius, nunc Ruarus non probant, in eo quod circa Dei cognitionem petita e natura rerum argumenta abdicaverit. Grot. Epist. 964. See too Ruari Epist., p. 210.

Crellius. Ruarus. 40. Crellius was, perhaps, the most eminent of the Racovian school in this century.[93] Many of its members, like himself, were Germans, their sect having gained ground in some of the Lutheran states about this time, as it did also in the United Provinces. Grotius broke a lance with him in his treatise De Satisfactione Christi, to which he replied in another with the same title. Each retired from the field with the courtesies of chivalry towards his antagonist. The Dutch Arminians in general, though very erroneously, supposed to concur in all the leading tenets of the Racovian theologians, treated them with much respect.[94] Grotius [Pg 443] was often reproached with the intimacies he kept up among these obnoxious sectaries; and many of his letters, as well as those of Curcellæus and other leading Arminians, bear witness to the personal regard they felt for them.[95] Several proofs of this will be also found in the epistles of Ruarus, a book which throws much light on the theological opinions of the age. Ruarus was a man of acuteness, learning, and piety, not wholly concurring with the Racovians, but not far removed from them.[96] The commentaries of Grotius on the Scriptures have been also charged with Socinianism; but he pleaded that his interpretations were those of the fathers.

[93] Dupin praises Volkelius highly, but says of Crellius: il avoit beaucoup étudié, mais il n’étoit pas un esprit fort élevé. Bibl. des Auteurs separés, ii. 614 v. 628. Simon, on the contrary, (ubi suprà) praises Crellius highly, and says no other commentator of his party is comparable to him.

[94] The Remonstrants refused to anathematize the Socinians, Episcopius says, on account of the apparent arguments in their favour, and the differences that have always existed on that head. Apologia Confessionis. Episc. Op. vol. i. His own tenets, were probably what some would call Arian; thus he says, personis his tribus divinitatem tribui, non collateraliter aut co-ordinatè, sed subordinatè. Inst. Theol. 1. iv., c. 2, 32. Grotius says, he finds the Catholics more tractable about the Trinity than the Calvinists.

[95] Grotius never shrunk from defending his intimacy with Ruarus and Crellius, and after praising the former, concludes, in one of his letters, with this liberal and honest sentiment. Ego vero ejus sum animi, ejusque instituti, ut mihi cum hominibus cunctis, præcipue cum Christianis quantumvis errantibus necessitudinis aliquid putem intercedere, idque me neque dictis neque factis pigeat demonstrare. Epist. 860. Hæretici nisi aliquid haberent veri ac nobiscum commune, jam hæretici non essent. 2da Series, p. 873. Nihil veri eo factum est deterius, quod in id Socinus incidit. p. 880. This, he thought, was the case in some questions, where Socinus, without designing it, had agreed with antiquity. Neque me pudeat consentire Socino, si quando is in veram veteremque sententiam incidit, ut sanè fecit in controversia de justitia per fidem, et aliis nonnullis. Id. p. 797. Socinus hoc non agens in atiquæ ecclesiæ sensus nonnunquam incidit, et eas partes, ut ingenio valebat, percoluit feliciter. Admiscuit alia quæ etiam vera dicenti auctoritatem detraxere. Epist. 966. Even during his controversy with Crellius he wrote to him in a very handsome manner. Bene autem in epistola tua, quæ mihi longè gratissimi advenit, de me judicas, non esse me eorum in numero, qui ob sententias salva pietate dissentientes, alieno a quoquam sim animo, aut boni alicujus amicitiam repudiare. Etiam in libro de vera religione, [Volkelii] quem jam percurri, relecturus et posthac, multa invenio summo cum judicio observata; illud vero sæculo gratulor, repertos homines, qui neutiquam in controversiis subtilibus tantum ponunt, quantum in vera vitæ emendatione, et quotidiano ad sanctitatem profectu. Epist. 280 (1631). He wrote with kindness and regret on the breaking up of the establishment at Racow in 1638. Ep. 1006: Grotius has been as obnoxious on the score of Socinianism as of Popery. His Commentaries on the Scriptures are taxed with it, and in fact he is not in good odour with any but the Arminian divines, nor do they, we see, wholly agree with him.

[96] Ruarus nearly agreed with Grotius as to the atonement; at least the latter thought so. De satisfactione ita mihi respondit, ut nihil admodum controversiæ relinqueretur. Grot. Epist. 2da series, p. 881. See also Ruari Epistolæ, p. 148, 282. He paid also more respect to the second century than some of his brethren, p. 100, 439, and even struggles to agree with the Ante-Nicene fathers, though he cannot come up to them, p. 275, 296. But in answer to some of his correspondents who magnified primitive authority, he well replies: Deinde quæro quis illos fixit veritati terminos? quis duo illa prima sæcula ab omni errore absolvit? Annon ecclesiastica historia satis testatur, nonnullas opiniones portentosas jam tum inter eos qui nomen Christi dederant, invaluisse? Quin ut verum fatear, res ipsa docet nonnullos posterioris sevi acutius in enodandis Scripturis versatos; et ut de nostra ætate dicam, valde me pœniteret Calvini vestri ac Bezæ si nihilo solidius sacras literas interpretarentur, quam video illos ipsos, quos tu mihi obducis, fecisse, p. 183. He lamented the fatal swerving from protestantism into which reverence for antiquity was leading his friend Grotius: fortassis et antiquitatis veneratio, quæ gravibus quibusdam Pontificiorum erroribus præluxit, ultra lineam eum perduxit, p. 277 (1642); and in answer to Mersenne, who seems to have had some hopes of his conversion, and recommended to him the controversy of Grotius with Rivet, he plainly replies that the former had extenuated some things in the church of Rome which ought to be altered, p. 258. This he frequently laments in the course of his letters, but treats him with gentleness in comparison with some of the sterner Socinians. It is remarkable that even he and Crellius seem to have excluded the members of the church of Rome, except the “vulgus ineruditum et Cassandri gregales,” from salvation; and this while almost all churches were anathematizing themselves in the same way. Ruar. Epist., p. 9 and p. 167.

This book contains two centuries of epistles, the second of which is said to be very scarce, and I doubt whether many have read the first, which must excuse my quotations. The learning, sense, and integrity of Ruarus, as well as the high respect which Calixtus, Curcellæus, and other great men felt for him, render the book of some interest. He tells us that while he was in England, about 1617, a professorship at Cambridge was offered to him, worth 100l. per annum, besides as much more from private pupils, p. 71. But he probably mistook the civil speeches of individuals for an offer: he was not eminent enough for such a proposal on the part of the university; and at least he must have been silent about his Socinianism. The morality of the early Socinians was very strict and even ascetic, proofs of which appear in these letters, p. 306 et alibi.

[Pg 444]Erastianism. 41. Two questions of great importance which had been raised in the preceding century, became still more interesting in the present, on account of the more frequent occasion that the force of circumstances gave for their investigation, and the greater names that were engaged in it. Both of these arose out of the national establishment of churches, and their consequent relation to the commonwealth. One regarded the power of the magistrate over the church he recognized; the other involved the right of his subjects to dissent from it by non-conformity, or by a different mode of worship.

Maintained by Hooker. 42. Erastus, by proposing to substitute for the ancient discipline of ecclesiastical censures, and especially for excommunication, a perpetual superintendence of the civil power over the faith and practice of the church, had given name to a scheme generally denominated Erastianism, though in some respects far broader than anything he seems to have suggested. It was more elaborately maintained by Hooker in his Ecclesiastical Polity, and had been, in fact, that on which the English reformation under Henry was originally founded. But as it was manifestly opposed to the ultra-montane pretensions of the See of Rome, and even to the more moderate theories of the catholic church, being, of course, destructive of her independence, so did it stand in equal contradiction to the Presbyterian scheme of Scotland and of the United Provinces. |And Grotius.| In the latter country, the states of Holland had been favourable to the Arminians, so far at least as to repress any violence against them; the clergy were exasperated and intolerant; and this raised the question of civil supremacy, in which Grotius, by one of his early works entitled Pietas Ordinum Hollandiæ, published in 1613, sustained the right of the magistrate to inhibit dangerous controversies.

His Treatise on ecclesiastical power of the state. 43. He returned, after the lapse of some years, to the same theme in a larger and more comprehensive work, De Imperio Summarum Potestatum circa Sacra. It is written upon the Anglican principles of regal supremacy, which had, however, become far less popular with the rulers of our church, than in the days of Cranmer, Whitgift, and Hooker. After stating the question, and proving the ecclesiastical power of the magistrate by natural law, Scripture, established usage, agreement of Heathen and Christian writers, and the reason of the thing, he distinguishes control over sacred offices from their exercise, and proceeds to inquire whether the magistrate may take the latter on himself; which, though practised in the early ages of the world, he finds inconvenient at present, the manners required for the regal and sacerdotal character being wholly different.[97]

[97] Cap. 4.

44. Actions may be prescribed or forbidden by natural divine law, positive divine law, or human law; the latter extending to nothing but what is left indefinite by the other two. But though we are bound not to act in obedience to human laws which contradict the divine, we are also bound not forcibly to resist them. We may defend ourselves by force against an equal, not against a superior, as he proves first from the Digest, and secondly from the New Testament.[98] Thus the rule of passive obedience is unequivocally laid down. He meets the recent examples of resistance to sovereigns, by saying that they cannot be approved where the kings have had an absolute power; but where they are bound by compact or the authority of a senate or of estates, since their power is not unlimited, they may be resisted on just grounds by that authority.[99] “Which I remark,” he proceeds to say, “lest any one, as I sometimes have known, should disgrace a good cause by a mistaken defence.”

[98] Cap. 3.

[99] Sin alicubi reges tales fuere, qui pactis sive positivis legibus et senatus alicujus aut ordinum decretis adstringerentur, in hos, ut summum imperium non obtinent, arma ex optimatum tanquam superiorum sententia sumi justis de causis potuerunt. Ibid.

45. The magistrate can alter nothing which is definitely laid down by the positive law of God; but he may regulate the circumstantial observance even of such; and as to things undefined in Scripture he has plenary jurisdiction; such as the temporalities of the church, the convocation of synods, the election of pastors. The burthen of proof lies on those who would limit the civil power by affirming anything to be prescribed by the divine law.[100] The authority attributed in Scripture to churches does not interfere with the power of the magistrate, being persuasive and not coercive. The whole church has no coercive power by divine right.[101] But since the visible church is a society of divine institution, it follows that whatever is naturally competent to a lawful [Pg 445] society, is competent also to the church, unless it can be proved to be withdrawn from it.[102] It has, therefore, a legislative government (regimen constitutivum), of which he gives the institution of the Lord’s day as an example. But this does not impair the sovereign’s authority in ecclesiastical matters. In treating of that supremacy, he does not clearly show what jurisdiction he attributes to the magistrate; most of his instances relating to the temporalities of the church, as to which no question is likely to arise.[103] But, on the whole, he means undoubtedly to carry the supremacy as far as is done in England.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Cap. 4.

[102] Quandoquidem ecclesia cœtus est divina lege non permissus tantum sed et institutus, de aspectabili cœtu loquor, sequitur ea omnia quæ cœtibus legitimis naturaliter competunt, etiam ecclesiæ competere, quatenus adempta non probantur. Ibid.

[103] Cap. 5.

46. In a chapter on the due exercise of the civil supremacy over the church, he shows more of a protestant feeling than would have been found in him when he approached the latter years of his life;[104] and declares fully against submission to any visible authority in matters of faith, so that sovereigns are not bound to follow the ministers of the church in what they may affirm as doctrine. Ecclesiastical synods he deems often useful, but thinks the magistrate is not bound to act with their consent, and that they are sometimes pernicious.[105] The magistrate may determine who shall compose such synods;[106] a strong position which he endeavours to prove at great length. Even if the members are elected by the church, the magistrate may reject those whom he reckons unfit; he may preside in the assembly, confirm, reject, annul its decisions. He may also legislate about the whole organisation of the established church.[107] It is for him to determine what form of religion shall be publicly exercised; an essential right of sovereignty as political writers have laid it down. And this is confirmed by experience; “for if any one shall ask why the Romish religion flourished in England under Mary, the protestant under Elizabeth, no cause can be assigned but the pleasure of these queens, or, as some might say, of the queens and parliaments.” In this manner Grotius disposes of a great question of casuistry by what has been done; as if murder and adultery might not be established by the same logic. Natural law would be resolved into history, were we always to argue in a similar way. But this, as will appear more fully hereafter, is not the usual reasoning of Grotius. To the objection from the danger of abuse in conceding so much power to the sovereign, he replies that no other theory will secure us better. On every supposition the power must be lodged in men, who are all liable to error. We must console ourselves by a trust in divine providence alone.[108]

[104] Cap. 6. He states the question to be this: An post apostolorum ætatem aut persona aut cœtus sit aliquis aspectabilis, de quâ quove certi esse possimus ac debeamus, quæcunque ab ipsis proponantur, esse indubitatæ veritatis. Negant hoc Evangelici; aiunt Romanenses.

[105] Cap. 7.

[106] Designare eos, qui ad synodum sunt venturi.

[107] Cap. 8. Nulla in re magis elucescit vis summi imperii, quam quod in ejus arbitrio est quænam religio publicè exerceatur, idque præcipuum inter majestatis jura ponunt omnes qui politicè scripserunt. Docet idem experientia; si enim quæras cur in Anglia Maria regnante Romana religio, Elizabetha vero imperante, Evangelica viguerit, causa proxima reddi non poterit, nisi ex arbitrio reginarum, aut, ut quibusdam videtur, reginarum ac parlamenti, p. 242.

[108] Cap. 8.

47. The sovereign may abolish false religions and punish their professors, which no one else can. Here again we find precedents instead of arguments; but he says that the primitive church disapproved of capital punishments for heresy, which seems to be his main reason for doing the same. The sovereign may also enjoin silence in controversies, and inspect the conduct of the clergy without limiting himself by the canons, though he will do well to regard them. Legislation and jurisdiction, that is, of a coercive nature, do not belong to the church, except as they may be conceded to it by the civil power.[109] He fully explains the various kinds of ecclesiastical law that have been gradually introduced. Even the power of the keys, which is by divine right, cannot be so exercised as to exclude the appellant jurisdiction of the sovereign; as he proves by the Roman law, and by the usage of the parliament of Paris.[110]

[109] Ibid.

[110] Cap. 9.

48. The sovereign has a control (inspectionem cum imperio) over the ordination of priests, and certainly possesses a right of confirmation, that is, the assignment of an ordained minister to a given cure.[111] And though the election of pastors belongs to the church, this may, for good reasons, be taken into the hands of the sovereign. Instances in point are easily [Pg 446] found, and the chapter upon the subject contains an interesting historical summary of this part of ecclesiastical law. In every case, the sovereign has a right of annulling an election, and also of removing a pastor from the local exercise of his ministry.[112]

[111] Cap. 10. Confirmationem hanc summæ potestati acceptam ferendam nemo sanus negaverit.

[112] Cap. 10.

Remark upon this theory. 49. This is the full development of an Erastian theory, which Cranmer had early espoused, and which Hooker had maintained in a less extensive manner. Bossuet has animadverted upon it, nor can it appear tolerable to a zealous churchman.[113] It was well received in England by the lawyers, who had always been jealous of the spiritual tribunals, especially of late years, when, under the patronage of Laud, they had taken a higher tone than seemed compatible with the supremacy of the common law. The scheme, nevertheless, is open to some objections when propounded in so unlimited a manner, none of which is more striking than that it tends to convert differences of religious opinion into crimes against the state, and furnishes bigotry with new arguments as well as new arms, in its conflict with the free exercise of human reason. Grotius, however, feared rather that he had given too little power to the civil magistrate than too much.[114]

[113] See Le Clerc’s remarks on what Bossuet has said. Bibliothèque Choisie, v. 349.

[114] Ego multo magis vereor, ne minus quam par est magistratibus, aut plusquam par est pastoribus tribuerim, quam ne in alteram partem iterum (?) excesserim, nec sic quidem illis satisfiet qui se ecclesiam vocant. Epist. 42. This was in 1614, after the publication of the Pietas Ordinum Hollandiæ. As he drew nearer to the church of Rome, or that of Canterbury, he must probably have somewhat modified his Erastianism. And yet he seems never to have been friendly to the temporal power of bishops. He writes in August, 1641, Episcopis Angliæ videtur mansurum nomen prope sine re, accisa et opulentia et auctoritate. Mihi non displicet ecclesiæ pastores et ab inani pompa et a curis sæcularium rerum sublevari, p. 1011. He had a regard for Laud, as the restorer of a reverence for primitive antiquity, and frequently laments his fate; but had said, in 1640, Doleo quod episcopi nimium intendendo potentiæ suæ nervos odium sibi potius quam amorem populorum pariunt. Ep. 1390.

Toleration of religious tenets. 50. Persecution for religious heterodoxy, in all its degrees, was in the sixteenth century the principle, as well as the practice of every church. It was held inconsistent with the sovereignty of the magistrate to permit any religion but his own; inconsistent with his duty to suffer any but the true. The edict of Nantes was a compromise between belligerent parties; the toleration of the dissidents in Poland was nearly of the same kind; but no state, powerful enough to restrain its sectaries from the exercise of their separate worship, had any scruples about the right and obligation to do so. Even the writers of that century, who seemed most strenuous for toleration, Castalio, Celso, and Koornhert, had confined themselves to denying the justice of penal and especially of capital inflictions for heresy; the liberty of public worship had but incidentally, if at all, been discussed. Acontius had developed larger principles, distinguishing the fundamental from the accessory doctrines of the gospel; which, by weakening the associations of bigotry, prepared the way for a catholic tolerance. Episcopius speaks in the strongest terms of the treatise of Acontius, de Stratagematibus Satanæ, and says that the Remonstrants trod closely in his steps, as would appear by comparing their writings; so that he shall quote no passages in proof, their entire books bearing witness to the conformity.[115]

[115] Episcop. Opera, i. 301 (edit. 1665.)

Claimed by the Arminians. 51. The Arminian dispute led by necessary consequence to the question of public toleration. They sought at first a free admission to the pulpits, and in an excellent speech of Grotius, addressed to the magistrates of Amsterdam in 1616, he objects to a separate toleration as rending the bosom of the church. But it was soon evident that nothing more could be obtained; and their adversaries refused this. They were driven therefore to contend for religious liberty, and the writings of Episcopius are full of this plea. Against capital punishment for heresy he raises his voice with indignant severity, and asserts that the whole Christian world abhorred the fatal precedent of Calvin in the death of Servetus.[116] This indicates a remarkable change already wrought in the sentiments of mankind. Certain it is that no capital punishments for heresy were inflicted in protestant [Pg 447] countries after this time; nor were they as frequently or as boldly vindicated as before.[117]

[116] Calvinus signum primus extulit supra alios omnes, et exemplum dedit in theatro Gebennesi funestissimum, quodque Christianus orbis merito execratur et abominatur; nec hoc contentus tam atroci ficinore, cruento simul animo et calamo parentavit. Apologia pro Confess. Remonstrantium, c. 24, p. 241. The whole passage is very remarkable, as an indignant reproof of a party, who, while living under popish governments, cry out for liberty of conscience, and deny the right of punishing opinions; yet, in all their writings and actions when they have the power, display the very opposite principles.

[117] De hæreticorum pœnis quæ scripsi, in iis mecum sentit Gallia et Germania, ut puto, omnis. Grot. Epist., p. 941 (1642.) Some years sooner there had been remains of the leaven in France. Adversus hæreticidia, he says, in 1626, satis ut arbitror plane locutus sum, certè ita ut hic multos ob id offenderim, p. 789. Our own Fuller, I am sorry to say, in his Church History, written about 1650, speaks with some disapprobation of the sympathy of the people with Legat and Wightman, burned by James I., in 1614; and this is the more remarkable, as he is a well-natured and not generally bigoted writer. I should think he was the latest protestant who has tarnished his name by such sentiments. James, who in some countries would have had certain reasons for dreading the fire himself, designed to have burned a third heretic, if the humanity of the multitude had not been greater than his own.

By the independents. 52. The Independents claim to themselves the honour of having been the first to maintain the principles of general toleration, both as to freedom of worship, and immunity from penalties for opinion. But that the Arminians were not as early promulgators of the same noble tenets, seems not to have been proved. Crellius in his Vindiciæ pro Religionis Libertate, 1636, contended for the Polish dissidents, and especially for his own sect.[118] The principle is implied, if not expressed, in the writings of Chillingworth, and still more of Hales; but the first famous plea, in this country, for tolerance in religion, on a comprehensive basis and on deep-seated foundations, was the liberty of Prophesying by Jeremy Taylor. |And by Jeremy Taylor.| This celebrated work was written according to Taylor’s dedication, during his retirement in Wales, wither he was driven, as he expresses it, “by this great storm which hath dashed the vessel of the church all in pieces,” and published in 1647. He speaks of himself as without access to books; it is evident, however, from the abundance of his quotations, that he was not much in want of them: and from this, as well as other strong indications, we may reasonably believe, that a considerable part of this treatise had been committed to paper long before.

[118] This short tract, which will be found among the collected works of Crellius, in the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, contains a just and temperate pleading for religious liberty, but little which can appear very striking in modern times. It is said, nevertheless, to have been translated and republished by D’Holbach about 1760. This I have not seen, but there must, I presume, have been a good deal of condiment added to make it stimulating enough for that school.

His Liberty of Prophesying. 53. The argument of this important book rests on one leading maxim, derived from the Arminian divines, as it was in them from Erasmus and Acontius, that the fundamental truths of Christianity are comprised in narrow compass, not beyond the Apostles’ creed in its literal meaning; that all the rest is matter of disputation, and too uncertain, for the most part, to warrant our condemning those who differ from us, as if their error must be criminal. This one proposition, much expanded, according to Taylor’s diffuse style, and displayed in a variety of language, pervades the whole treatise; a small part of which, in comparison with the rest, bears immediately on the point of political toleration, as a duty of civil governments and of churches invested with power. In the greater portion, Taylor is rather arguing against that dogmatism of judgment, which induces men, either singly or collectively, to pronounce with confidence where only a varying probability can be attained. This spirit is the religious, though not entirely the political, motive of intolerance; and, by chasing this from the heart, he inferred not that he should lay wide the door to universal freedom, but dispose the magistrate to consider more equitably the claims of every sect.“Whatsoever is against the foundation of faith, or contrary to good life and the laws of obedience, or destructive to human society and the public and just interests of bodies politic, is out of the limits of my question, and does not pretend to compliance or toleration; so that I allow no indifferency, nor any countenance to those religions whose principles destroy government, nor to those religions, if there be any such, that teach ill life.”

Boldness of his doctrines. 54. No man, as Taylor here teaches, is under any obligation to believe that in revelation, which is not so revealed, but that wise men and good men have differed in their opinions about it. And the great variety of opinions in churches, and even in the same church, “there being none that is in prosperity,” as he, with rather a startling boldness puts it, “but changes her doctrines every age, either by bringing in new doctrines, or by contradicting her old,” shows that we can have no term of union, but that wherein all agree, the creed of the apostles.[119] And hence, though we [Pg 448] may undoubtedly carry on our own private inquiries as much farther as we see reason, none who hold this fundamental faith are to be esteemed heretics, nor liable to punishment. And here he proceeds to reprove all those oblique acts which are not direct persecutions of men’s persons, the destruction of books, the forbidding the publication of new ones, the setting out fraudulent editions and similar acts of falsehood, by which men endeavour to stifle or prevent religious inquiry. “It is a strange industry and an importune diligence that was used by our forefathers; of all those heresies which gave them battle and employment, we have absolutely no record or monument, but what themselves, who are adversaries, have transmitted to us; and we know that adversaries, especially such who observed all opportunities to discredit both the persons and doctrines of the enemy, are not always the best records or witnesses of such transactions. We see it now in this very age, in the present distemperatures, that parties are no good registers of the actions of the adverse side; and, if we cannot be confident of the truth of a story now, now I say that it is possible for any man, and likely that the interested adversary will discover the imposture, it is far more unlikely that after ages should know any other truth, but such as serves the ends of the representers.”[120]

[119] “Since no churches believe themselves infallible, that only excepted which all other churches say is most of all deceived, it were strange if, in so many articles, which make up their several bodies of confessions, they had not mistaken, every one of them, in some thing or other.” This is Taylor’s fearless mode of grappling with his argument; and any other must give a church that claims infallibility the advantage.

[120] Vol. vii, p. 424. Heber’s edition of Taylor.

His notions of uncertainty in theological tenets. 55. None were accounted heretics by the primitive church, who held by the Apostles’ creed, till the council of Nice defined some things, rightly indeed, as Taylor professes to believe, but perhaps with too much alteration of the simplicity of ancient faith, so that “he had need be a subtle man who understands the very words of the new determinations.” And this was carried much farther by later councils, and in the Athanasian creed, of which, though protesting his own persuasion in its truth, he intimates not a little disapprobation. The necessary articles of faith are laid down clearly in Scripture; but no man can be secure, as to mysterious points, that he shall certainly understand and believe them in their true sense. This he shows first from the great discrepancy of reading in manuscripts, (an argument which he over-states in a very uncritical and incautious manner); next, from the different senses the words will bear, which there is no certain mark to distinguish, the infinite variety of human understandings, swayed, it may be, by interest, or determined by accidental and extrinsical circumstances, and the fallibility of those means, by which men hope to attain a clear knowledge of scriptural truth. And after exposing, certainly with no extenuation, the difficulties of interpretation, he concludes that since these ordinary means of expounding Scripture are very dubious, “he that is the wisest, and by consequence the likeliest to expound truest, in all probability of reason, will be very far from confidence; and, therefore, a wise man would not willingly be prescribed to by others; and if he be also a just man, he will not impose upon others; for it is best every man should be left in that liberty, from which no man can justly take him, unless he could secure him from error; so here there is a necessity to conserve the liberty of prophesying and interpreting Scripture; a necessity derived from the consideration of the difficulty of Scripture in questions controverted, and the uncertainty of any internal medium of interpretation.”

His low opinion of the fathers. 56. Taylor would in much of this have found an echo in the advocates of the church of Rome, and in some protestants of his own communion; but he passed onward to assail their bulwarks. Tradition or the testimony of the church, he holds insufficient and uncertain, for the reasons urged more fully by Daillé; the authority of councils is almost equally precarious, from their inconsistency, their liability to factious passions, and the doubtful authenticity of some of their acts; the pope’s claim to infallibility is combated on the usual grounds; the judgment of the fathers is shown to be inconclusive by their differences among themselves, and their frequent errors; and professing a desire that “their great reputation should be preserved as sacred as it ought,” he refers the reader to Daillé for other things; and, “shall only consider that the writings of the fathers have been so corrupted by the intermixture of heretics, so many false books put forth in their names, so many of their writings lost which would more clearly have explicated their sense, and, at last, an open profession made and a trade of making the fathers speak [Pg 449] not what themselves thought, but what other men pleased, that it is a great instance of God’s providence and care of his church, that we have so much good preserved in the writings which we receive from the fathers, and that all truth is not as clear gone as is the certainty of their great authority and reputation.”[121]

[121] It seems not quite easy to reconcile this with what Taylor has just before said of his desire to preserve the reputation of the fathers sacred. In no writer is it more necessary to observe the animus with which he writes; for, giving way to his impetuosity, when he has said anything that would give offence, or which he thought incautious, it was not his custom, so far as we can judge, to expunge or soften it, but to insert something else of an opposite colour, without taking any pains to harmonize his context. He probably revised hardly at all what he had written before it went to the press. This makes it easy to quote passages, especially short ones, from Taylor, which do not exhibit his real way of thinking; if, indeed, his way of thinking itself did not vary with the wind that blew from different regions of controversy.

Difficulty of finding out truth. 57. The authority of the church cannot be any longer alleged when neither that of popes and councils, nor of ancient fathers is maintainable; since the diffusive church has no other means of speaking, nor can we distinguish by any extrinsic test the greater or better portion of it from the worse. And thus, after dismissing respectfully the pretences of some to expound Scripture by the Spirit, as impertinent to the question of dictating the faith of others, he comes to the reason of each man, as the best judge for himself, of religious controversies; reason, that may be exercised either in choosing a guide, if it feel its own incompetency, or in examining the grounds of belief. The latter has great advantages, and no man is bound to know anything of that concerning which he is not able to judge for himself. But reason may err, as he goes on to prove, without being culpable; that which is plain to one understanding being obscure to another, and among various sources of error which he enumerates as incidental to mankind, that of education being “so great and invincible a prejudice, that he who masters the inconvenience of it is more to be commended than he can justly be blamed that complies with it.” And thus not only single men but whole bodies take unhesitatingly and unanimously opposite sides from those who have imbibed another kind of instruction, and “it is strange that all the Dominicans should be of one opinion in the matter of predestination and immaculate conception, and all the Franciscans of the quite contrary, as if their understandings were formed in a different mould and furnished with various principles by their very rule.” These and the like prejudices are not absolute excuses to every one, and are often accompanied with culpable dispositions of mind; but the impossibility of judging others renders it incumbent on us to be lenient towards all, and neither to be peremptory in denying that those who differ from us have used the best means in their power to discover the truth, nor to charge their persons, whatever we may their opinions, with odious consequences which they do not avow.

Grounds of toleration. 58. This diffuse and not very well arranged vindication of diversity of judgment in religion, comprised in the first twelve sections of the Liberty of Prophesying, is the proper basis of the second part, which maintains the justice of toleration as a consequence from the former principle. The general arguments, or prejudices, on which punishment for religious tenets had been sustained, turned on their criminality in the eyes of God, and the duty of the magistrate to sustain God’s honour and to guard his own subjects from sin. Taylor, not denying that certain and known idolatry, or any sort of practical impiety, may be punished corporally, because it is matter of fact, asserts that no matter of mere opinion, no errors that of themselves are not sins, are to be persecuted or punished by death or corporal infliction. He returns to his favourite position, that “we are not sure not to be deceived;” mingling this, in that inconsequent allocation of his proofs which frequently occurs in his writings, with other arguments of a different nature. The governors of the church, indeed, may condemn and restrain as far as their power extends, any false doctrine which encourages evil life, or destroys the foundations of religion; but if the church meddles farther with any matters of question, which have not this tendency, so as to dictate what men are to believe, she becomes tyrannical and uncharitable; the Apostles’ creed being sufficient to conserve the peace of the church and the unity of her doctrine. And, with respect to the civil magistrate, he concludes that he is bound to suffer the profession of different opinions, which are neither directly impious and immoral, nor disturb the public peace.

Inconsistency of one chapter. 59. The seventeenth chapter, in which Taylor professes to consider which among [Pg 450] the sects of Christendom are to be tolerated and in what degree, is written in a tone not easily reconciled with that of the rest. Though he begins by saying that diversity of opinions does more concern public peace than religion, it certainly appears in some passages, that on this pretext of peace, which with the magistrate has generally been of more influence than that of orthodoxy, he withdraws a great deal of that liberty of prophesying which he has been so broadly asserting. Punishment for religious tenets is doubtless not at all the same as restraint of separate worship; yet we are not prepared for the shackles he seems inclined to throw over the latter. Laws of ecclesiastical discipline, which, in Taylor’s age, were understood to be binding on the whole community, cannot, he holds, be infringed by those who take occasion to disagree, without rendering authority contemptible; and if there are any as zealous for obedience to the church, as others may be for their opinions against it, the toleration of the latter’s disobedience may give offence to the former: an argument strange enough in this treatise! But Taylor is always more prone to accumulate reasons than to sift their efficiency. It is indeed, he thinks, worthy to be considered in framing a law of church discipline, whether it will be disliked by any who are to obey it; but, after it is once enacted, there seems no further indulgence practicable than what the governors of the church may grant to particular persons by dispensation. The laws of discipline are for the public good, and must not so far tolerate a violation of themselves as to destroy the good that the public ought to derive from them.[122]

[122] This single chapter is of itself conclusive against the truth of Taylor’s own allegation that he wrote his Liberty of Prophesying in order to procure toleration for the episcopal church of England at the hands of those who had overthrown it. No one ever dreamed of refusing freedom of opinion to that church; it was only about public worship that any difficulty could arise. But, in truth, there is not one word in the whole treatise which could have been written with the view that Taylor pretends.

His general defence of toleration. 60. I am inclined to suspect that Taylor, for some cause, interpolated this chapter after the rest of the treatise was complete. It has as little bearing upon, and is as inconsistent in spirit with, the following sections as with those that precede. To use a familiar illustration, the effect it produces on the reader’s mind is like that of coming on deck at sea, and finding that, the ship having put about, the whole line of coast is reversed to the eye. Taylor, however, makes but a short tack. In the next section, he resumes the bold tone of an advocate for freedom; and, after discussing at great length the leading tenet of the Anabaptists, concludes that, resting as it does on such plausible, though insufficient grounds, we cannot exclude it by any means from toleration, though they may be restrained from preaching their other notions of the unlawfulness of war, or of oaths, or of capital punishment; it being certain that no good religion teaches doctrines whose consequences would destroy all government. A more remarkable chapter is that in which Taylor concludes in favour of tolerating the Romanists, except when they assert the pope’s power of deposing princes, or of dispensing with oaths. The result of all, he says, is this: “Let the prince and the secular power have a care the commonwealth be safe. For whether such or such a sect of Christians be to be permitted, is a question rather political than religious.”

61. In the concluding sections he maintains the right of particular churches to admit all who profess the Apostles’ creed to their communion, and of private men to communicate with different churches, if they require no unlawful condition. But “few churches, that have framed bodies of confession and articles, will endure any person that is not of the same confession; which is a plain demonstration that such bodies of confession and articles do much hurt.” “The guilt of schism may lie on him who least thinks it; he being rather the schismatic who makes unnecessary and inconvenient impositions, than he who disobeys them, because he cannot do otherwise without violating his conscience.”[123] The whole treatise on the Liberty of Prophesying ends with the celebrated parable of Abraham, found, as Taylor says, “in the Jews’ books,” but really in an Arabian writer. This story Franklin, as every one now knows, rather unhandsomely appropriated to himself; and it is a strange proof of the ignorance as to our earlier literature which then prevailed, that for many years it continued to be quoted with his name. It was not contained in the [Pg 451] first editions of the Liberty of Prophesying; and, indeed, the book from which Taylor is supposed to have borrowed it was not published till 1641.

[123] This is said also by Hales, in his tract on Schism, which was published some years before the Liberty of Prophesying. It is, however, what Taylor would have thought without a prompter.

62. Such is this great pleading for religious moderation; a production not more remarkable in itself than for the quarter from which it came. In the polemical writings of Jeremy Taylor we generally find a staunch and uncompromising adherence to one party; and from the abundant use he makes of authority, we should infer that he felt a great veneration for it. In the Liberty of Prophesying, as has appeared by the general sketch, rather than analysis we have just given, there is a prevailing tinge of the contrary turn of mind, more striking than the comparison of insulated passages can be. From what motives, and under what circumstances, this treatise was written, is not easily discerned. In the dedication to Lord Hatton of the collective edition of his controversial writings after the Restoration, he declares that “when a persecution did arise against the church of England, he intended to make a reservative for his brethren and himself, by pleading for a liberty to our consciences to persevere in that profession, which was warranted by all the laws of God and our superiors.” It is with regret we are compelled to confess some want of ingenuousness in this part of Taylor’s proceedings. No one reading the Liberty of Prophesying can perceive that it had the slightest bearing on any toleration that the episcopal church, in the time of the civil war, might ask of her victorious enemies. The differences between them were not on speculative points of faith, nor turning on an appeal to fathers and councils. That Taylor had another class of controversies in his mind is sufficiently obvious to the attentive reader, and I can give no proof in this place to any other.

Effect of this treatise. 63. This was the third blow that the new latitudinarian school of Leyden had aimed in England at the positive dogmatists, who, in all the reformed churches, as in that of Rome, laboured to impose extensive confessions of faith, abounding in inferences of scholastic theology, as conditions of exterior communion, and as peremptory articles of faith. Chillingworth and Hales were not less decisive; but the former had but in an incidental manner glanced at the subject, and the short tract on Schism had been rather deficient in proof of its hardy paradoxes. Taylor, therefore, may be said to have been the first who sapped and shook the foundations of dogmatism and pretended orthodoxy; the first who taught men to seek peace in unity of spirit rather than of belief; and, instead of extinguishing dissent, to take away its sting by charity, and by a sense of human fallibility. The mind thus freed from bigotry is best prepared for the public toleration of differences in religion; but certainly the despotic and jealous temper of governments is not so well combated by Taylor as by later advocates of religious freedom.

Its defects. 64. In conducting his argument, he falls not unfrequently into his usual fault. Endowed with a mind of prodigious fertility, which a vast erudition rendered more luxuriant he accumulates without selection whatever presents itself to his mind; his innumerable quotations, his multiplied reasonings, his prodigality of epithets and appositions, are poured along the interminable periods of his writings, with a frequency of repetition, sometimes of the same phrases, which leaves us to suspect that he revised but little what he had very rapidly composed. Certain it is that, in his different works, he does not quite adhere to himself; and it would be more desirable to lay this on the partial views that haste and impetuosity produce, than on a deliberate employment of what he knew to be insufficient reasoning. But I must acknowledge that Taylor’s fairness does not seem his characteristic quality.

65. In some passages of the Liberty of Prophesying, he seems to exaggerate the causes of uncertainty, and to take away from ecclesiastical antiquity even that moderate probability of truth which a dispassionate inquirer may sometimes assign to it. His suspicions of spuriousness and interpolation are too vaguely sceptical, and come ill from one who has no sort of hesitation, in some of his controversies, to allege as authority what he here sets aside with little ceremony. Thus, in the Defence of Episcopacy, published in 1642, he maintains the authenticity of the first fifty of the apostolic canons, all of which, in the Liberty of Prophesying, a very few years afterwards, he indiscriminately rejects. But this line of criticism was not then in so advanced a state as at present; and, from a credulous admission of everything, the learned had come sometimes to more sweeping charges of interpolation and forgery than would be sustained on a more searching investigation. Taylor’s language is so unguarded that he seems to leave the authenticity of all the fathers precarious. [Pg 452] Doubtless there is a greater want of security as to books written before the invention of printing than we are apt to conceive, especially where independent manuscripts have not been found; but it is the business of a sagacious criticism, by the aid of internal or collateral evidence, to distinguish, not dogmatically as most are wont, but with a rational, though limited assent, the genuine remains of ancient writers from the incrustations of blundering or of imposture.

Great erudition of this period. 66. A prodigious reach of learning distinguishes the theologians of these fifty years, far greater than even in the sixteenth century; and also, if I am not mistaken, more critical and pointed, though in these latter qualities it was afterwards surpassed. And in this erudition the Protestant churches we may perhaps say, were upon the whole more abundant than that of Rome. But it would be unprofitable to enumerate works which we are incompetent to appreciate. Blondel, Daillé, and Salmasius on the continent, Usher in England, are the most conspicuous names. Blondel sustained the equality of the apostolic church both against the primacy of Rome, and the episcopacy for which the Anglicans contended; Salmasius and Daillé fought on the same side in that controversy. |Usher, Fetavius.| The writings of our Irish primate, Usher, who maintained the antiquity of his order, but not upon such ground as many in England would have desired, are known for their extraordinary learning, in which he has perhaps never been surpassed by an English writer. But for judgment and calm appreciation of evidence, the name of Usher has not been altogether so much respected by posterity, as it was by his contemporaries. The church of Rome had its champions of less eminent renown: Gretser, perhaps the first among them, is not very familiar to our ears; but it is to be remembered, that some of the writings of Bellarmin fall within this period. The Dogmata Theologica of the jesuit Petavius, though but a compilation from the fathers and ancient councils, and not peculiarly directed against the tenets of the reformed, may deserve mention as a monument of useful labour.[124] Labbe, Sirmond, and several others, appear to range more naturally under the class of historical than theological writers. In mere ecclesiastical history—the records of events rather than opinions—this period was far more profound and critical than the preceding. The annals of Baronius were abridged and continued by Spondanus.

[124] The Dogmata Theologica is not a complete work; it extends only at far as the head of free will. It belongs to the class of Loci Communes. Morhof, ii. 539.

Sacred criticism. 67. A numerous list of writers in sacred criticism might easily be produced. Among the Romanists, Cornelius à Lapide has been extolled above the rest by his fellow jesuit Andrès. His Commentaries, published from 1617 to 1642, are reckoned by others too diffuse; but he seems to have a fair reputation with protestant critics.[125] The Lutherans extol Gerhard, and especially Glass, author of the Philologia Sacra, in hermeneutical theology. Rivet was the highest name among the Calvinists. Arminius, Episcopius, the Fratres Poloni, and indeed almost every one who had to defend a cause, found no course so ready, at least among protestants as to explain the Scriptures consistently with his own tenets. |Grotius, Coccejus.| Two natives of Holland, opposite in character, in spirit, and principles of reasoning, and consequently the founders of opposite schools of disciples, stand out from the rest—Grotius and Coccejus. Luther, Calvin, and the generality of protestant interpreters in the sixteenth century had, in most instances, rejected with some contempt the allegorical and multifarious senses of Scripture which had been introduced by the fathers, and had prevailed through the dark ages of the church. This adherence to the literal meaning was doubtless promoted by the tenet they all professed, the facility of understanding Scripture. That which was designed for the simple and illiterate, was not to require a key to any esoteric sense. Grotius, however, in his Annotations on the Old and New Testament, published in 1633—the most remarkable book of this kind that had appeared, and which has had a more durable reputation than any perhaps of its precursors—carried the system of literal interpretation still farther, bringing great stores of illustrative learning from profane antiquity, but merely to elucidate the primary meaning, according to ordinary rules of criticism. Coccejus followed a wholly opposite course. Every passage, in his method, teemed with hidden senses; the narratives, least capable of any ulterior [Pg 453] application, were converted into typical allusions, so that the Old Testament became throughout an enigmatical representation of the New. He was also remarkable for having viewed, more than any preceding writer, all the relations between God and man under the form of covenants, and introduced the technical language of jurisprudence into theology. This became a very usual mode of treating the subject in Holland, and afterwards in England. The Coccejans were numerous in the United Provinces, though not perhaps deemed quite so orthodox as their adversaries, who, from Gisbert Voet, a theologian of the most inflexible and polemical spirit, were denominated Voetians. Their disputes began a little before the middle of the century, and lasted till nearly its close.[126] The Summa Doctrinæ of Coccejus appeared in 1648, and the Dissertationes Theologicæ of Voet in 1649.

[125] Andrès, Blount. Simon, however, says he is full of an erudition not to the purpose, which, as his Commentaries on the Scriptures run to twelve volumes, is not wonderful.

[126] Eichhorn, vi. pt. i., p. 264. Mosheim.

English Commentators. 68. England gradually took a prominent share in this branch of sacred literature. Among the divines of this period, comprehending the reigns of James and Charles, we may mention Usher, Gataker, Mede, Lightfoot, Jackson, Field, and Leigh.[127] Gataker stood, perhaps, next to Usher in general erudition. The fame of Mede has rested, for the most part, on his interpretations of the Apocalypse. This book had been little commented upon by the reformers; but in the beginning of the seventeenth century, several wild schemes of its application to present or expected events had been broached in Germany. England had also taken an active part, if it be true what Grotius tells us, that eighty books on the prophecies had been published here before 1640.[128] Those of Mede have been received with favour by later interpreters. Lightfoot, with extensive knowledge of the rabbinical writers, poured his copious stores on Jewish antiquities, preceded in this by a more obscure labourer in that region, Ainsworth. Jackson had a considerable name, but is little read, I suppose, in the present age. Field on the Church has been much praised by Coleridge; it is, as it seemed to me, a more temperate work in ecclesiastical theory than some have represented it to be, and written almost wholly against Rome. Leigh’s Critica Sacra can hardly be reckoned, nor does it claim to be, more than a compilation from earlier theologians: it is an alphabetical series of words from the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, the author candidly admitting that he was not very conversant with the latter language.

[127] “All confess,” says Selden, in the Table-talk, “there never was a more learned clergy—no man taxes them with ignorance.” In another place, indeed, he is represented to say, “The jesuits and the lawyers of France, and the Low Country-men have engrossed all learning; the rest of the world make nothing but homilies.” As far as these sentences are not owing to difference of humour in the time of speaking, he seems to have taken learning in a larger sense the second time than the first. Of learning, not theological the English clergy had no extraordinary portion.

[128] Si qua in re libera esse debet sententia, certè in vaticiniis præsertim cum jam Protestantium libri prodierint fermè centum (in his octoginta in Anglia sola, ut mihi Anglici legati dixere,) super illis rebus, inter se plurimum discordes. Grot. Epist. 895.

Style of preaching. 69. The style of preaching before the Reformation had been often little else than buffoonery, and seldom respectable. The German sermons of Tauler, in the fourteenth century, are alone remembered. For the most part, indeed, the clergy wrote in Latin what they delivered to the multitude in the native tongue. A better tone began with Luther. His language was sometimes rude and low, but persuasive, artless, powerful. He gave many useful precepts, as well as examples, for pulpit eloquence. Melanchthon and several others, both in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well in the Lutheran as the reformed church, endeavoured, by systematic treatises, to guide the composition of sermons. The former could not, however, withstand the formal, tasteless, and polemical spirit that overspread their theology. In the latter a superior tone is perceived. Of these, according to Eichhorn, the Swiss preachers were most simple and popular, the Dutch most learned and copious, the French had most taste and eloquence, the English most philosophy.[129] It is more than probable that in these characteristics he has meant to comprise the whole of the seventeenth century. Few continental writers, as far as I know, that belong to this its first moiety, have earned any remarkable reputation in this province of theology. |English sermons.| In England several might be distinguished out of a large number. Sermons have been much more frequently published here than in any other country; and, from the beginning of the seventeenth century, form a large proportion of our theological literature. But it is of course not requisite to mention more [Pg 454] than the very few which may be said to have a general reputation.

[129] Eichhorn, t. vi., part ii., p. 219, et post.

Of Donne. 70. The sermons of Donne have sometimes been praised in late times. They are undoubtedly the productions of a very ingenious and a very learned man; and two folio volumes by such a person may be expected to supply favourable specimens. In their general character, they will not appear, I think, much worthy of being rescued from oblivion. The subtlety of Donne, and his fondness for such inconclusive reasoning, as a subtle disputant is apt to fall into, runs through all of these sermons at which I have looked. His learning he seems to have perverted in order to cull every impertinence of the fathers and schoolmen, their remote analogies, their strained allegories, their technical distinctions; and to these he has added much of a similar kind from his own fanciful understanding. In his theology, Donne appears often to incline towards the Arminian hypotheses, which, in the last years of James and the first of his son, the period in which these sermons were chiefly preached, had begun to be accounted orthodox at court; but I will not vouch for his consistency in every discourse. Much, as usual in that age, is levelled against Rome: Donne was conspicuously learned in that controversy; and though he talks with great respect of antiquity, is not induced by it, like some of his Anglican contemporaries, to make any concession to the adversary.[130]

[130] Donne incurred some scandal by a book entitled Biathanatos, and considered as a vindication of suicide. It was published long after his death, in 1651. It is a very dull and pedantic performance, without the ingenuity and acuteness of paradox; distinctions, objections, and quotations from the rabble of bad authors whom he used to read, fill up the whole of it. It is impossible to find a less clear statement of argument on either side. No one would be induced to kill himself by reading such a book, unless he were threatened with another volume.

Of Jeremy Taylor. 71. The sermons of Jeremy Taylor are of much higher reputation; far indeed above any that had preceded them in the English church. An imagination essentially poetical, and sparing none of the decorations which, by critical rules, are deemed almost peculiar to verse; a warm tone of piety, sweetness, and charity; an accumulation of circumstantial accessories whenever he reasons, or persuades, or describes; an erudition pouring itself forth in quotation, till his sermons become in some places almost a garland of flowers from all other writers, and especially from those of classical antiquity, never before so redundantly scattered from the pulpit, distinguish Taylor from his contemporaries by their degree, as they do from most of his successors by their kind. His sermons on the Marriage Ring, on the House of Feasting, on the Apples of Sodom, may be named without disparagement to others, which perhaps ought to stand in equal place. But they are not without considerable faults, some of which have just been hinted. The eloquence of Taylor is great, but it is not eloquence of the highest class; it is far too Asiatic, too much in the style of Chrysostom and other declaimers of the fourth century, by the study of whom he had probably vitiated his taste; his learning is ill placed, and his arguments often as much so; not to mention that he has the common defect of alleging nugatory proofs; his vehemence loses its effect by the circuity of his pleonastic language; his sentences are of endless length, and hence not only altogether unmusical, but not always reducible to grammar. But he is still the greatest ornament of the English pulpit up to the middle of the seventeenth century; and we have no reason to believe, or rather much reason to disbelieve, that he had any competitor in other languages.

Devotional writings of Taylor. 72. The devotional writings of Taylor, several of which belong to the first part of the century, are by no means of less celebrity or less value than his sermons. Such are the life of Christ, the Holy Living and Dying, and the collections of meditations, called the Golden Grove. |And Hall.| A writer as distinguished in works of practical piety was Hall. His Art of Divine Meditation, his Contemplations, and indeed many of his writings, remind us frequently of Taylor. Both had equally pious and devotional tempers; both were full of learning, both fertile of illustration; both may be said to have had strong imagination and poetical genius, though Taylor let his predominate a little more. Taylor is also rather more subtle and argumentive; his copiousness has more real variety. Hall keeps more closely to his subject, dilates upon it sometimes more tediously, but more appositely. In his sermons there is some excess of quotation and far-fetched illustration, but less than in those of Taylor. These two great divines resemble each other, on the whole, so much that we might for a short time not discover which we were reading. [Pg 455] I do not know that any third writer comes close to either. The Contemplations of Hall are among his most celebrated works. They are prolix, and without much of that vivacity or striking novelty we meet with in the devotional writings of his contemporary, but are perhaps more practical and generally edifying.[131]

[131] Some of the moral writings of Hall were translated into French by Chevreau in the seventeenth century, and had much success. Niceron, xi. 348.

In the Roman. 73. The religious treatises of this class, even those which by their former popularity, or their merit, ought to be mentioned in a regular history of theological literature, are too numerous for these pages. A mystical and ascetic spirit diffused itself more over religion, struggling sometimes, as in the Lutherans of Germany, against the formal orthodoxy of the church, but more often in subordination to its authority, and cooperating with its functions. The writings of St. Francis de Sales, titular Bishop of Geneva, especially that on the Love of God, published in 1616, make a sort of epoch in the devotional theology of the church of Rome. Those of St. Teresa, in the Spanish language, followed some years afterwards; they are altogether full of a mystical theopathy. But De Sales included charity in his scheme of divine love; and it is to him, as well as others of his age, that not only a striking revival of religion in France, which had been absolutely perverted or disregarded in the sixteenth century, was due, but a reformation in the practices of monastic life, which became more active and beneficent, with less of useless penance and asceticism than before. New institutions sprung up with the spirit of association, and all other animating principles of conventual orders, but free from the formality and torpor of the old.[132]

[132] Ranke, ii. 430.

And Lutheran church. 74. Even in the German churches, rigid as they generally were in their adherence to the symbolical books, some voices from time to time were heard for a more spiritual and effective religion. Arndt’s Treatise of True Christianity, in 1605, written on ascetic and devotional principles, and with some deviation from the tenets of the very orthodox Lutherans may be reckoned one of the first protests against their barren forms of Faith[133]; and the mystical theologians, if they had not run into such extravagances as did dishonour to their names would have been accessions to the same side. The principal mystics or theosophists have generally been counted among philosophers, and will therefore find their place in the next chapter. The German nation is constitutionally disposed to receive those forms of religion which address themselves to the imagination and the heart. Much therefore of this character has always been written, and become popular, in that language. Few English writings of the practical class, except those already mentioned, can be said to retain much notoriety. Those of George Herbert are best known; his Country Parson, which seems properly to fall within this description, is on the whole a pleasing little book; but the precepts are sometimes so overstrained, as to give an air of affectation.

[133] Eichhorn, v. part i., p. 355. Biogr. Univ. Chalmers.

Infidelity of some writers. Charron. 75. The disbelief in revelation, of which several symptoms had appeared before the end of the sixteenth century, became more remarkable afterwards both in France and England, involving several names not obscure in literary history. The first of these, in point of date, is Charron. The religious scepticism of this writer has not been generally acknowledged, and indeed it seems repugnant to the fact of his having written an elaborate defence of Christianity; yet we can deduce no other conclusion from one chapter in his most celebrated book, the Treatise on Wisdom. Charron is so often little else than a transcriber, that we might suspect him in this instance also to have drawn from other sources; which however would leave the same inference as to his own tenets, and I think this chapter has an air of originality.

Vanini. 76. The name of Charron, however, has not been generally associated with the charge of irreligion. A more audacious, and consequently more unfortunate writer was Lucilio Vanini, a native of Italy, whose book De Admirandis Naturæ Reginæ Deæque Mortalium Arcanis, printed at Paris in 1616, caused him to be burned at the stake by a decree of the parliament of Toulouse in 1619. This treatise, as well as one that preceded it, Amphitheatrum Æternæ Providentiæ, Lyons, 1615, is of considerable rarity, so that there has been a question concerning the atheism of Vanini, which some have undertaken to deny.[134] In the Amphitheatrum I do not perceive anything which leads to such an imputation, though I will not pretend to [Pg 456] have read the whole of a book full of the unintelligible metaphysics of the later Aristotelians. It professes at least to be a vindication of the being and providence of the Deity. But the later work, which is dedicated to Bassompierre, and published with a royal privilege of exclusive sale for six years, is of a very different complexion. It is in sixty dialogues, the interlocutors being styled Alexander and Julius Cæsar, the latter representing Vanini himself. The far greater part of these dialogues relate to physical, but a few to theological subjects. In the fiftieth, on the religion of the heathens, he avows his disbelief of all religion, except such as nature, which is God, being the principle of motion, has planted in the hearts of man; every other being the figment of kings to keep their subjects in obedience, and of priests for their own lucre and honour;[135] observing plainly of his own Amphitheatrum, which is a vindication of providence, that he had said many things in it which he did not believe.[136] Vanini was infatuated with presumption, and, if he resembled Jordano Bruno in this respect, fell very short of his acuteness and apparent integrity. His cruel death, and perhaps the scarcity of his works, has given more celebrity to his name in literary history than it would otherwise have obtained.

[134] Brucker, v. 678.

[135] In quanam religione verè et piè Deum coli vetusti philosophi existimârunt? In unica Naturæ lege, quam ipsa Natura, quæ Deus est (est enim principium motûs), in omnium gentium animis inscripsit; cæteras vero leges non nisi figmenta et illusiones esse asserebant, non a cacodæmone aliquo inductas, fabulosum namque illorum genus dicitur a philosophis, sed a principibus ad subditorum pædagogiam excogitatas, et a sacrificulis ob honoris et auri aucupium confirmatas, non miraculis, sed scriptura, cujus nec originale ullibi adinvenitur, quæ miracula facta recitet, et bonarum ac malarum actionum repromissiones polliceatur, in futura tamen vita, ne fraus detegi possit, p. 366.

[136] Multa in eo libro scripta sunt, quibus a me nulla præstatur fides. Così va il mondo.—ALEX. Non miror, nam ego crebris vernaculis hoc usurpo sermonibus: Questo mondo è una gabbia de’ matti. Reges excipio et Pontifices. Nam de illis scriptum est: Cor Regis in manu Domini, &c. Dial. LVI., p. 428.

The concluding pages are enough to show with what justice Buhle and Tennemann have gravely recorded Vanini among philosophers. Quæso, mi Juli, tuam de animæ immortalitate sententiam explices.—J. C. Excusatum me habeas rogo.—AL. Cur ita?—J. C. Vovi Deo meo quæstionem hanc me non pertractaturum, antequam senex dives et germanus evasero.—AL. Dii tibi Nestoreos pro literariæ reipublicæ emolumento dies impertiant: vix trigesimum nunc attigisti annum et tot præclaræ eruditionis monumenta admirabili cum laude edidisti.—J. C. Quid hæc mihi prosunt?—AL. Celebrem tibi laudem comparârunt.—J. C. Omnes famæ rumusculos cum uno amasiæ basiolo commutandos plerique philosophi suadent.—AL. At alter ea perfrui potest.—J. C. Quid inde adimit?...—AL. Uberrimos voluptaris fructus percepisti in Naturæ arcanis investigandis.—J. C. Corpus mihi est studiis enervatum exhaustumque; neque in hac humana caligine perfectam rerum cognitionem assequi possumus; cum ipsummet Aristotelem philosophorum Deum infinitis propemodum locis hallucinatum fuisse adverto, cumque medicam facultatem præ reliquis certissimam adhuc incertam et fallacem experior, subscribere cuperem Agrippæ libello quem de scientiarum vanitate conscripsit.—AL. Laborum tuorum præmium jam consecutus es; æternitati nomen jam consecrâsti. Quid jucundius in extremo tuæ ætatis curriculo accipere potes, quam hoc canticum? Et superest sine te nomen in orbe tuum.—J. C. Si animus meus una cum corpore, ut Athei fingunt, evanescat, quas ille ex fama post obitum delicias nanscisci poterit? Forsitan gloriolæ voculis, et fidiculis ad cadaveris domicilium pertrahatur? Si animus, ut credimus libenter et speramus, interitui non est obnoxius, et ad superos evolabit, tot ibi perfruetur cupediis et voluptatibus, ut illustres ac splendidas mundi pompas et laudationes nec pili faciat. Si ad purgatorias flammas descendet, gratior erit illi illius orationis, Dies iræ, dies illa, mulierculis gratissima recitatio, quam omnes Tulliani glossuli, dicendique lepores, quam subtilissimæ et pene divinæ Aristotelis ratiocinationes: si Tartareo, quod Deus avertat, perpetuo carceri emancipatur, nullum ibi solatium, nullam redemptionam inveniet.—AL. O utinam in adolescentiæ limine has rationas excepissem!—J. C. Prætorita mala ne cogites, futura ne cures, præsentia fugias.—AL. Ah!—J. C. Liberaliter inspiras.—AL. Illius versiculi recordor. Perduto è tutto il tempo, che in amor non si spende.—J. C. Eja quoniam inclinato jam die ad vesperam perducta est disputatio (cujus singula verba divino Romanæ ecclesiæ oraculo, infallibilis cujus interpres a Spiritu sancto modo constitutus est Paulus V., serenissimæ Burghesiæ familiæ soboles, subjecta esse volumus, ita ut pro non dictis habeantur, si quæ forsitan sunt, quod vic crediderim, quæ illius placitis ad amussim non consentiant), laxemus paulisper animos, et a severitate ad hilaritatem risumque traducamus. Heus pueri! lusorias tabulas huc adferte. The wretched man, it seems, had not much reason to think himself a gainer by his speculations; yet he knew not that the worst was still behind.

Lord Herbert of Cherbury. 77. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, in his Treatise de Veritate, and still more in that De Religione Gentilium, has been justly deemed inimical to every positive religion. He admits indeed the possibility of immediate revelation from heaven, but denies that any tradition from others can have sufficient certainty. Five fundamental truths of natural religion he holds to be such as [Pg 457] all mankind are bound to acknowledge, and damns those heathens who do not receive them as summarily as any theologian.[137]

[137] These five articles are—1. Esse Deum summum.—2. Coli debere.—3. Virtutem pietatemque esse præcipuas partes cultûs divini.—4. Dolendum esse ob peccata, ab iisque resipiscendum.— 5. Dari ex bonitate justitiaque divina præmium vel pœnam tum in hac vita, tum post hanc vitam.... Hisce quippe ubi superstitiones figmentaque commiscuerint, vel animas suas criminibus quæ nulla satis eluat pœnitentia, commaculaverint, a seipsis perditio propria, Deo vero summo in æternum sit gloria. De Religione Gentilium, cap. 1.

Grotius de Veritate. 78. The progress of infidelity in France did not fail to attract notice. It was popular in the court of Louis XIII., and, in a certain degree, in that of Charles I. But this does not belong to the history of literature. Among the writers who may have given some proofs of it we may reckon La Mothe le Vayer, Naudé, and Guy Patin.[138] The writings of Hobbes will be treated at length hereafter. It is probable that this sceptical spirit of the age gave rise to those vindications of revealed religion which were published in the present period. Among these the first place is due to the well-known and extensively circulated treatise of Grotius. This was originally sketched in Dutch verse, and intended for the lower classes of his countrymen. It was published in Latin in 1627.[139] Few, if any, books of the kind have been so frequently reprinted; but some parts being not quite so close and critical as the modern state of letters exacts, and the arguments against Jews and Mahometans seeming to occupy too much space, it is less read than formerly.

[138] La Mothe le Vayer has frequently been reckoned among those who carried their general scepticism into religion. And this seems a fair inference, unless the contrary can be shown; for those who doubt of what is most evident, will naturally doubt of what is less so. In La Mothe’s fourth dialogue, under the name of Oratius Tubero, he pretends to speak of faith as a gift of God, and not founded on evidence; which was probably but the usual subterfuge. The Naudæana are full of broad intimations that the author was, as he expresses it, bien déniaisé; and Guy Patin’s letters, except those near the end of his life, lead to a similar conclusion. One of them has certainly the appearance of implicating Gassendi, and has been quoted as such by Sir James Mackintosh, in his Dissertation on Ethical Philosophy. Patin tells us, that Naudé, Gassendi, and he were to sup together the following Sunday. Ce sera une débauche, mais philosophique, et peut-être quelque chose d’avantage, pour être tous trois guéris du loup-garou, et être délivrés du mal des scrupules qui est le tyran des consciences, nous irons peut-être jusque fort près du sanctuaire. Je fis l’an passé ce voyage de Gentilly avec M. Naudé, moy seul avec luy, tête-à-tête; il n’y avoit point de témoins, aussi n’y en falloit-il point; nous y parlâmes fort librement de tout, sans que personne en ait été scandalizé, p. 32. I should not, nevertheless, lay much stress on this letter in opposition to the many assertions of belief in religion which the writings of Gassendi contain. One of them, indeed, quoted by Dugald Stewart, in note Q. to his first Dissertation, is rather suspicious, as going too far into a mystical strain for his extremely cold temperament.

[139] Niceron, vol. xix. Biogr. Univ.

English translation of the Bible. 79. This is not a period in which many editions or versions of the Scriptures were published. The English translation of the Bible had been several times revised, or re-made, since the first edition by Tyndal and Coverdale. It finally assumed its present form under the authority of James I. Forty-seven persons, in six companies, meeting at Westminster, Oxford, and Cambridge, distributed the labour among them; twenty-five being assigned to the Old Testament, fifteen to the New, seven to the Apocrypha. The rules imposed for their guidance by the king were designed, as far as possible, to secure the text against any novel interpretation; the translation, called the Bishop’s Bible, being established as the basis, as those still older had been in that; and the work of each person or company being subjected to the review of the rest. The translation, which was commenced in 1607, was published in 1611.[140]

[140] Fuller’s Church History.

Its style. 80. The style of this translation is in general so enthusiastically praised, that no one is permitted either to qualify or even explain the grounds of his approbation. It is held to be the perfection of our English language. I shall not dispute this proposition; but one remark as to a matter of fact cannot reasonably be censured, that, in consequence of the principle of adherence to the original versions which had been kept up ever since the time of Henry VIII., it is not the language of the reign of James I. It may, in the eyes of many, be a better English, but it is not the English of Daniel, or Raleigh, or Bacon, as any one may easily perceive. It abounds, in fact, especially in the Old Testament, with obsolete phraseology, and with single words long since abandoned, or retained only in provincial use. On the more important question, whether this translation is entirely, [Pg 458] or with very trifling exceptions, conformable to the original text, it seems unfit to enter. It is one which is seldom discussed with all the temper and freedom from oblique views which the subject demands, and upon which, for this reason, it is not safe for those who have not had leisure or means to examine it for themselves, to take upon trust the testimony of the learned. A translation of the Old Testament was published at Douay in 1609, for the use of the English Catholics.



Sect. I.

Aristotelian Logic—Campanella—Theosophists—Lord Herbert of Cherbury—Gassendi’s Remarks upon him.

Subjects of this chapter. 1. In the two preceding volumes, we have had occasion to excuse the heterogeneous character of the chapters that bear this title. The present is fully as much open to verbal criticism; and perhaps it is rather by excluding both moral and mathematical philosophy, that we give it some sort of unity, than from any close connexion in all the books that will come under our notice in the ensuing pages. But any tabular arrangement of literature, such as has often been attempted with no very satisfactory result, would be absolutely inappropriate to such a work as the present, which has already to labour with the inconvenience of more subdivisions than can be pleasing to the reader, and would interfere too continually with that general regard to chronology, without which the name of history seems incongruous. Hence the metaphysical inquiries that are conversant with the human mind, or with natural theology, the general principles of investigating truth, the comprehensive speculations of theoretical physics, subjects very distinct and not easily confounded by the most thoughtless, must fall, with no more special distribution, within the contents of this chapter. But since during the period which it embraces, men arose, who have laid the foundations of a new philosophy, and thus have rendered it a great epoch in the intellectual history of mankind, we shall not very strictly, though without much deviation, follow a chronological order, and after reviewing some of the less important labourers in speculative philosophy, come to the names of three who have most influenced posterity—Bacon, Descartes, and Hobbes.

Aristotelians and Ramists. 2. We have seen in a former chapter how little progress had been made in this kind of philosophy during the sixteenth century. At its close the schools of logic were divided, though by no means in equal proportion, between the Aristotelians and the Ramists; the one sustained by ancient renown, by civil, or at least academical power, and by the common prejudice against innovation; the other deriving some strength from the love of novelty, and the prejudice against established authority, which the first age of the reformation had generated, and which continued, perhaps, to preserve a certain influence in the second. But neither from one nor the other had philosophy, whether in material or intellectual physics, much to hope; the disputations of the schools might be technically correct; but so little regard was paid to objective truth, or at least so little pains taken to ascertain it, that no advance in real knowledge signalised either of these parties of dialecticians. According, indeed, to a writer of this age, strongly attached to the Aristotelian party, Ramus had turned all physical science into the domain of logic, and argued from words to things still more than his opponents.[141] Lord Bacon, in the bitterest language, casts on him a similar reproach.[142] It seems that he caused this [Pg 459] branch of philosophy to retrograde rather than advance.

[141] Keckermann, Præcognita Logica, p. 129. This writer charges Ramus with plagiarism from Ludovicus Vives, placing the passages in apposition, so as to prove his case. Ramus, he says, never alludes to Vives. He praises the former, however, for having attacked the scholastic party, being himself a genuine Aristotelian.

[142] Ne vero, fili, cum hanc contra Aristotelem sententiam fero, me cum rebelli ejus quodam neoterico Petro Ramo conspirasse augurare. Nullum mihi commercium cum hoc ignorantiæ latibulo, perniciosissima literarum tinea, compendiorum patre, qui cum methodi suæ et compendii vinclis res torqueat et premat, res quidem, si qua fuit, elabitur protinus et exsilit; ipse vero aridas et desertissimas nugas stringit. Atque Aquinas quindam cum Scoto et sociis etiam in non rebus rerum varietatem effinxit, hic vero etiam in rebus non rerum solitudinem æquavit. Atque hoc hominis cum sit, humanos tamen usus in ore habet impudens, ut mihi etiam pro [præ?] sophistis prævaricari videatur Bacon de Interpretatione Naturæ.

No improvement till near the end of the century. 3. It was obvious at all events, that from the universities, or from the church, in any country, no improvement in philosophy was to be expected; yet those who had strayed from the beaten track, a Paracelsus, a Jordan Bruno, even a Telesio, had but lost themselves in irregular mysticism, or laid down theories of their own, as arbitrary and destitute of proof as those they endeavoured to supersede. The ancient philosophers, and especially Aristotle, were, with all their errors and defects, far more genuine high-priests of nature than any moderns of the sixteenth century. But there was a better prospect at its close, in separate though very important branches of physical science. Gilbert, Kepler, Galileo, were laying the basis of a true philosophy; and they, who do not properly belong to this chapter, laboured very effectually to put an end to all antiquated errors, and to check the reception of novel paradoxes.

Methods of the Universities. 4. We may cast a glance, meantime, on those universities which still were so wise in their own conceit, and maintained a kind of reputation by the multitude of their disciples. Whatever has been said of the scholastic metaphysicians of the sixteenth century, may be understood as being applicable to their successors during the present period. That method was by no means extinct, though the books which contain it are forgotten. In all that part of Europe which acknowledged the authority of Rome, and in all the universities which were swayed by the orders of Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits, the metaphysics of the thirteenth century, the dialectics of the Peripatetic school, were still taught. If new books were written, as was frequently the case, they were written upon old systems. Brucker, who sometimes transcribes Morhof word for word, but frequently expands with so much more copiousness, that he may be presumed to have had a direct acquaintance with many of the books he mentions, has gone most elaborately into this subject.[143] The chairs of philosophy in Protestant German universities, except where the Ramists had got possession of them, which was not very common, especially after the first years of this period, were occupied by avowed Aristotelians; so that if one should enumerate the professors of physics, metaphysics, logic, and ethics, down to the close of the century, he would be almost giving a list of strenuous adherents to that system.[144] One cause of this was the “Philippic method,” or course of instruction in the philosophical books of Melanchthon, more clear and elegant, and better arranged than that of Aristotle himself or his commentators. But this, which long continued to prevail, was deemed by some too superficial, and tending to set aside the original authority. Brucker however admits, what seems at least to limit some of his expressions as to the prevalence of Peripateticism, that many reverted to the scholastic metaphysics, which raised its head about the beginning of the seventeenth century, even in the protestant regions of Germany. The universities of Altdorf and Helmstadt were the chief nurseries of the genuine Peripateticism.[145]

[143] Morhof, vol. iii., l. 1. c. 13, 14. Brucker, iv., cap. 2, 3.

[144] Brucker, iv. 243.

[145] Id. pp. 248-253.

Scholastic Writers. 5. Of the metaphysical writers whom the older philosophy brought forth we must speak with much ignorance. Suarez of Granada is justly celebrated for some of his other works; but of his Metaphysical Disputations, published at Mentz, in 1614, in two folio volumes, and several times afterwards, I find no distinct character in Morhof or Brucker. They both, especially the former, have praised Lalemandet, a Franciscan, whose Decisiones Philosophicæ, on logic, physics, and metaphysics, appeared at Munich, in 1644 and 1645. Lalemandet, says Morhof, has well stated the questions between the Nominalist and Realist parties; observing that the difference between them is like that of a man who casts up a sum of money by figures, and one who counts the coins themselves.[146] This, however, seems no very happy illustration of the essential points of controversy. Vasquez, Tellez, and several more names, without going for the present below the middle of the century, may be found in the two writers quoted. Spain was peculiarly the nurse of these obsolete and unprofitable metaphysics.

[146] Morhof, vol. ii., lib. i., cap. 14., sect. 15. Brucker, iv. 129.

6. The Aristotelian philosophy, unadulterated by the figments of the schoolmen, had eminent upholders in the Italian universities, [Pg 460] especially in that of Padua. Cæsar Cremonini taught in that famous city till his death in 1630. Fortunio Liceto, his successor, was as staunch a disciple of the Peripatetic sect. We have a more full account of these men from Gabriel Naudé, both in his recorded conversation, the Naudæana, and in a volume of letters, than from any other quarter. His twelfth letter, especially, enters into some detail as to the state of the university of Padua, to which, for the purpose of hearing Cremonini, he had repaired in 1625. He does not much extol its condition; only Cremonini and one more were deemed by him safe teachers: the rest were mostly of a common class; the lectures were too few, and the vacations too long. He observes, as one might at this day, the scanty population of the city compared with its size, the grass growing and the birds singing in the streets, and, what we should not find now to be the case, the “general custom of Italy, which keeps women perpetually locked up in their chambers, like birds in cages.”[147] Naudé in many of these letters speaks in the most panegyrical terms of Cremonini,[148] and particularly for his standing up almost alone in defence of the Aristotelian philosophy, when Telesio, Patrizi, Bruno, and others had been propounding theories of their own. Licetus, the successor of Cremonini, maintained, he afterwards informs us, with little support the Peripatetic verity. It is probable that, by this time, Galileo, a more powerful adversary than Patrizi and Telesio, had drawn away the students of physical philosophy from Aristotle; nor did Naudé himself long continue in the faith he had imbibed from Cremonini. He became the intimate friend of Gassendi, and embraced a better system without repugnance, though he still kept up his correspondence with Licetus.

[147] Naudæi Epistolæ, p. 52 (edit. 1667.)

[148] P. 27, et alibi sæpius.

Treatises on logic. 7. Logic had never been more studied, according to a writer who has given a sort of history of the science about the beginning of this period, than in the preceding age; and in fact he enumerates above fifty treatises on the subject, between the time of Ramus and his own.[149] The Ramists, though of little importance in Italy, in Spain, and even in France, had much influence in Germany, England, and Scotland.[150] None however of the logical works of the sixteenth century obtained such reputation as those by Smiglecius, Burgersdicius, and our countryman Crakanthorp, all of whom flourished, if we may use such a word for those who bore no flowers, in the earlier part of the next age. As these men were famous in their generation, we may presume that they at least wrote better than their predecessors. But it is time to leave so jejune a subject, though we may not yet be able to produce what is much more valuable.

[149] Keckermann, Præcognita Logica, p. 110 (edit 1606.)

[150] Id. p. 147.

Campanella. 8. The first name, in an opposite class, that we find in descending from the sixteenth century, is that of Thomas Campanella, whose earliest writings belong to it. His philosophy being wholly dogmatical, must be classed with that of the paradoxical innovators whom he followed and eclipsed. Campanella, a Dominican friar, and like his master Telesio, a native of Cosenza, having been accused, it is uncertain how far with truth, of a conspiracy against the Spanish government of his country, underwent an imprisonment of twenty-seven years; during which almost all his philosophical treatises were composed and given to the world. Ardent and rapid in his mind, and, as has just been seen, not destitute of leisure, he wrote on logic, physics, metaphysics, morals, politics, and grammar. Upon all these subjects his aim seems to have been to recede as far as possible from Aristotle. He had early begun to distrust this guide, and had formed a noble resolution to study all schemes of philosophy, comparing them with their archetype, the world itself, that he might distinguish how much exactness was to be found in those several copies, as they ought to be, from one autograph of nature.[151]

[151] Cypriani Vita Campanellæ, p. 7.

His theory taken from Telesio. 9. Campanella borrowed his primary theorems from Telesio, but enlarged that Parmenidean philosophy by the invention of his own fertile and imaginative genius. He lays down the fundamental principle, that the perfectly wise and good Being has created certain signs and types (statuas atque imagines) of himself, all of which, severally as well as collectively, represent power, wisdom, and love, and the objects of these namely, existence, truth, and excellence, with more or less evidence. God first created space, the basis of existence, the primal substance, an immovable and incorporeal capacity of receiving body. Next he created matter without form or figure. In this corporeal mass God called to being [Pg 461] two workmen, incorporeal themselves, but incapable of subsisting apart from body, the organs of no physical forms, but of their maker alone. These are heat and cold, the active principles diffused through all things. They were enemies from the beginning, each striving to occupy all material substances itself; each, therefore, always contending with the other, while God foresaw the great good that their discord would produce.[152] The heavens, he says in another passage, were formed by heat out of attenuated matter, the earth by cold out of condensed matter; the sun, being a body of heat, as he rolls round the earth, attacks the colder substance, and converts part of it into air and vapour.[153] This last part of his theory Campanella must have afterwards changed in words, when he embraced the Copernican system.

[152] In hac corporea mole tantæ materia statuæ, dixit Deus, ut nascerentur fabri duo incorporei, sed non potentes nisi a corpore subsistere, nullarum physicarum formarum organa, sed formatoris tantummodo. Id circo nati calor et frigus, principia activa principalia, ideoque suæ virtutis diffusiva. Statim inimici fuerunt mutuo, dum uterque cupit totam substantiam materialem occupare. Hinc contra se invicem pugnare cœperunt providente Deo ex hujusmodi discordia ingens bonum. Philosophia Realis Epilogistica (Frankfort, 1623), sect. 4.

[153] This is in the Compendium de Rerum Natura pro Philosophia humana, published by Adami in 1617. In his Apology for Galileo, in 1632, Campanella defends the Copernican system, and says that the modern astronomers think they cannot construct good ephemerides without it.

Notion of universal sensibility. 10. He united to this physical theory another not wholly original, but enforced in all his writings with singular confidence and pertinacity, the sensibility of all created beings. All things, he says, feel; else would the world be a chaos. For neither would fire tend upwards, nor stones downwards, nor waters to the sea; but everything would remain where it was, were it not conscious that destruction awaits it by remaining amidst that which is contrary to itself, and that it can only be preserved by seeking that which is of a similar nature. Contrariety is necessary for the decay and reproduction of nature; but all things strive against their contraries, which they could not do, if they did not perceive what is their contrary.[154] God, who is primal power, wisdom, and love, has bestowed on all things the power of existence, and so much wisdom and love as is necessary for their conversation during that time only for which his providence has determined that they shall be. Heat, therefore, has power, and sense, and desire of its own being; so have all other things seeking to be eternal like God, and in God they are eternal, for nothing dies before him, but is only changed.[155] Even to the world, as a sentient being, the death of its parts is no evil, since the death of one is the birth of many. Bread that is swallowed dies to revive as blood, and blood dies, that it may live again in our flesh and bones; and thus as the life of man is compounded out of the deaths and lives of all his parts, so is it with the whole universe.[156] God said, Let all things feel, some more, some less, as they have more or less necessity to imitate my being. And let them desire to live in that which they understand to be good for them, lest my creation should come to nought.[157]

[154] Omnia ergo sentiunt; alias mundus esset chaos. Ignis enim non sursum tenderet, nec aquæ in mare, nec lapides deorsum; sed res omnis ubi primo reperiretur, permaneret, cum non sentiret sui destructionem inter contraria nec sui conservationem inter similia. Non esset in mundo generatio et corruptio nisi esset contrarietas, sicut omnes physiologi affirmant. At si alteram contrarium non sentiret alterum sibi esse contrarium, contra ipsum non pugnaret. Sentiunt ergo singula. De Sensu Rerum, l. i. c. 4.

[155] Igitur ipse Deus, qui est prima potentia, prima sapientia, primus amor, largitus est rebus omnibus potentiam vivendi, et sapientiam et amorem quantum sufficit conservationi ipsarum in tanto tempore necessariæ, quantum determinavit ejus mens pro rerum regimine in ipso ente, nec præteriri potest. Calor ergo potest, sentit, amat esse; ita et res omnis cupitque æternari sicut Deus, et Deo res nulla moritur, sed solummodo mutatur, &c. l. ii., c. 26.

[156] Non est malus ignis in suo esse; terræ autem mams videtur, non autem mundo; nec vipera mala est, licet homini sit mala. Ita de omnibus idem prædico. Mors quoque rei unius si nativitas est multarum rerum, mala non est. Moritur panis manducatus, ut fiat sanguis, et sanguis moritur, ut in carnem nervos et ossa vertatur ac vivat; neque tamen hoc universo displicit animali, quamvis partibus mors ipsa, hoc est, transmutatio dolorifica sit, displiceatque. Ita utilis est mundo transmutatio eorum particularium noxia displicensque illis. Totus homo compositus est ex morte ac vita partialibus, quæ integrant vitam humanam. Sic mundus totus ex morticus ac vitibus compositus est, quæ totius vitam efficiunt. Philosop. Realis, c. 10.

[157] Sentiant alia magis, alia minus, prout magis minusque opus habent, et me imitentur in essendo. Ibidem ament, omnia vivere in proprio esse præcognito ut bono, ne corruat factura mea. Id. c. 10.

His imagination and eloquence. 11. The strength of Campanella’s genius lay in his imagination, which raises him sometimes to flights of impressive eloquence on [Pg 462] this favourite theme. The sky and stars are endowed with the keenest sensibility; nor is it unreasonable to suppose that they signify their mutual thoughts to each other by the transference of light, and that their sensibility is full of pleasure. The blessed spirits that inform such living and bright mansions behold all things in nature and in the divine ideas; they have also a more glorious light than their own, through which they are elevated to a supernatural beatific vision.[158] We can hardly read this, without recollecting the most sublime passage, perhaps, in Shakspeare:

“Sit, Jessica; look how the vault of heaven
Is thick inlayed with patins of bright gold.
There’s not the smallest orb, that thou behold’st,
But in its motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim;
Such harmony is in immortal souls.
But while this muddy vesture of decay
Does grossly close us in, we cannot hear it.”[159]

[158] Animæ beatæ habitantes sic vivas lucidasque mansiones, res naturales vident omnes divinasque ideas, habent quoque lumen gloriosius quo elevantur ad visionem supernaturalem beatificam, et veluti apud nos luces plurimæ sese mutuo tangunt, intersecant, decussant, sentiuntque ita in cœlo luces distinguuntur, uniuntur, sentiunt. De Sensu Rerum, l. iii. c. 4.

[159] Merchant of Venice, Act V.

12. The world is full of living spirits, he proceeds; and when the soul shall be delivered from this dark cavern, we shall behold their subtle essences. But now we cannot discern the forms of the air, and the winds as they rush by us; much less the angels and dæmons who people them. Miserable as we are, we recognise no other sensation than that which we observe in animals and plants, slow and half extinguished, and buried under a weight that oppresses it. We will not understand that all our actions and appetites and motions and powers flow from heaven. Look at the manner in which light is diffused over the earth, penetrating every part of it with endless variety of operation, which we must believe that it does not perform without exquisite pleasure.[160] And hence there is no vacuum in nature, except by violent means; since all bodies delight in mutual contact, and the world no more desires to be rent in its parts than an animal.

[160] Prætervolant in conspectu nostro venti et aer, at nihil eos videmus, multo minus videmus Angelos Dæmonasque, quorum plenus est mundus.

Infelices qui sensum alium nullum agnoscimus, nisi obtusum animalium plantarumque, tardum, demortuum aggravatum; sepultum: nec quidem intelligere volumus omnem actionem nostram et appetitum et sensum et motum et vim a cœlo manare. Ecce lux quanto acutissimo expanditur sensu super terram, quo multiplicatur, generatur, amplificatur, idque non sine magna efficere voluptate existimanda est, l. iii. c. 5.

Campanella used to hear, as he tells us, whenever any evil was impending, a voice calling him by his name, sometimes with other words; he doubted whether this were his proper Dæmon, or the air itself speaking. It is not wonderful that his imagination was affected by length of confinement.

13. It is almost a descent in Campanella from these visions of the separate sensibility of nature in each particle, when he seizes hold of some physical fact or analogy to establish a subordinate and less paradoxical part of his theory. He was much pleased with Gilbert’s treatise on the magnet, and thought it of course a proof of the animation of the earth. The world is an animal, he says, sentient as a whole, and enjoying life in all its parts.[161] It is not surprising that he ascribes intelligence to plants; but he here remarks that we find the male and female sexes in them, and that the latter cannot fructify without the former. This is manifest in siliquose plants and in palms (which on this account he calls in another place the wiser plants, plantæ sapientiores), in which the two kinds incline towards each other for the purpose of fructification.[162]

[161] Mundum esse animal, totum sentiens, omnesque portiones ejus communi gaudere vita, l. i. c. 9.

[162] Inveniemus in plantis sexum masculinum et fœmininum, ut in animalibus, et fœminam non fructificare sine masculi congressu. Hoc patet in siliquis et in palmis, quarum mas fœminaque inclinantur mutuo alter in alterum et sese osculantur, et fœmina impregnatur, nec fructificat sine mare; immo conspicitur dolens, squalida mortuaque, et pulvere illius et odore reviviscit.

His works published by Adami. 14. Campanella, when he uttered from his Neapolitan prison these dulcet sounds of fantasy, had the advantage of finding a pious disciple who spread them over other parts of Europe. This was Tobias Adami, initiated, as he tells us, in the same mysteries as himself (nostræ philosophiæ symmysta), who dedicated to the philosophers of Germany his own Prodromus Philosophiæ Instauratio, prefixed to his edition of Campanella’s Compendium de Rerum Natura, published at Frankfort in 1617. Most of the other writings of the master seem to have preceded this edition; for Adami enumerates them in his Prodromus. Campanella did not fully obtain his liberty till 1629, and died some years afterwards in [Pg 463] France, where he had experienced the kindness of Peiresc, and the patronage of Richelieu. His philosophy made no very deep impression; it was too fanciful, too arbitrary, too much tinctured with marks of an imagination rendered morbid by solitude, to gain many proselytes in an age that was advancing in severe science. Gassendi, whose good nature led him to receive Campanella, oppressed by poverty and ill usage, with every courteous attention, was of all men the last to be seduced by his theories. No one, probably, since Campanella, aspiring to be reckoned among philosophers, has ventured to assert so much on matters of high speculative importance and to prove so little. Yet he seems worthy of the notice we have taken of him, if it were only as the last of the mere dogmatists in philosophy. He is doubtless much superior to Jordano Bruno, and I should presume, except in mathematics, to Cardan.[163]

[163] Brucker (vol. v., p. 106-144) has given a laborious analysis of the philosophy of Campanella.

Basson. 15. A less important adversary of the established theory in physics was Sebastian Basson, in his “Philosophiæ Naturalis adversus Aristotelem libri XII., in quibus abstrusa veterum physiologia restauratur, et Aristotelis errores solidis rationibus refelluntur. Genevæ, 1621.” This book shows great animosity against Aristotle, to whom, as Lord Bacon has himself insinuated, he allows only the credit of having preserved fragments of the older philosophers, like pearls in mud. It is difficult to give an account of this long work. In some places we perceive signs of a just philosophy; but in general his explanations of physical phænomena seem as bad as those of his opponents, and he displays no acquaintance with the writings and the discoveries of his great contemporaries. We find also some geometrical paradoxes; and in treating of astronomy he writes as if he had never heard of the Copernican system.

Berigard. 16. Claude Berigard, born at Moulins, became professor of natural philosophy at Pisa and Padua. In his Circuli Pisani, published in 1643, he attempted to revive, as it is commonly said, the Ionic or corpuscular philosophy of Anaxagoras, in opposition to the Aristotelian. The book is rare; but Brucker, who had seen it, seems to have satisfactorily repelled the charge of atheism, brought by some against Berigard.[164]

[164] Brucker, iv. 460. Niceron, xxxi., where he is inserted by the name of Beauregard, which is probably more correct, but against usage.

Magnen. Another Frenchman domiciled in Italy, Magnen, trod nearly the same path as Berigard, professing, however, to follow the modification of the corpuscular theory introduced by Democritus.[165] It seems to be observable as to these writers, Basson and the others, that, coming with no sufficient knowledge of what had recently been discovered in mathematical and experimental science, and following the bad methods of the universities, even when they deviated from their usual doctrines, dogmatizing and asserting when they should have proved, arguing synthetically from axioms, and never ascending from particular facts, they could do little good to philosophy, except by contributing, so far as they might be said to have had any influence, to shake the authority of Aristotle.

[165] Brucker (p. 504) thinks that Magnen misunderstood the atomic theory of Democritus, and substituted one quite different in his Democritus reviviscens, published in 1646.

Paracelsists. 17. This authority, which at least required but the deference of modest reason to one of the greatest of mankind, was ill exchanged, in any part of science, for the unintelligible dreams of the school of Paracelsus, which had many disciples in Germany, and a very few in England. Germany indeed has been the native soil of mysticism in Europe. The tendency to reflex observation of the mind, characteristic of that people, has exempted them from much gross error, and given them insight into many depths of truth, but at the expense of some confusion, some liability to self-deceit, and to some want of strictness in metaphysical reasoning. It was accompanied by a profound sense of the presence of Deity; yet one which, acting on their thoughtful spirits, became rather an impression than an intellectual act, and settled into a mysterious indefinite theopathy, when it did not even evaporate in pantheism.

And Theosophists. 18. The founder, perhaps, of this sect was Tauler of Strasburg, in the fourteenth century, whose sermons in the native language, which, however, are supposed to have been translated from Latin, are full of what many have called by the vague word mysticism, an intense aspiration for the union of the soul with God. An anonymous work generally entitled The German Theology, written in the fifteenth century, pursues the same track of devotional [Pg 464] thought. It was a favourite book with Luther, and was translated into Latin by Castalio.[166] These indeed are to be considered chiefly as theological; but the study of them led readily to a state of mental emotion, wherein a dogmatic pseudo-philosophy, like that of Paracelsus, abounding with assertions that imposed on the imagination, and appealing frequently both to scriptural authority and the evidence of inward light, was sure to be favourably received. The mystics, therefore, and the theosophists belonged to the same class, and it is not uncommon to use the names indifferently.

[166] Episcopius places the author of the Theologia Germanica, with Henry Nicolas and David George, among mere enthusiasts.

Fludd. 19. It may appear not here required to dwell on a subject scarcely falling under any province of literary history, but two writers within this period have been sufficiently distinguished to deserve mention. One of these was Robert Fludd, an English physician, who died in 1637; a man of indefatigable diligence in collecting the dreams and follies of past ages, blending them in a portentous combination with new fancies of his own. The Rabbinical and Cabbalistic authors, as well as the Paracelsists, the writers on magic, and whatever was most worthy to be rejected and forgotten, form the basis of his creed. Among his numerous works the most known was his “Mosaic Philosophy,” in which, like many before his time as well as since, he endeavoured to build a scheme of physical philosophy on the first chapters in Genesis. I do not know whether he found there his two grand principles or forces of nature: a northern force of condensation, and a southern force of dilatation. These seem to be the Parmenidean cold and heat, expressed in a jargon affected in order to make dupes. In peopling the universe with dæmons, and in ascribing all phænomena to their invisible agency, he pursued the steps of Agrippa and Paracelsus, or rather of the whole school of fanatics and impostors called magical. He took also from older writers the doctrine of a constant analogy between universal nature, or the macrocosm, and that of man, or the microcosm; so that what was known in one might lead us to what was unknown in the other.[167] Fludd possessed, however, some acquaintance with science, especially in chemistry and mechanics; and his rhapsodies were so far from being universally contemned in his own age, that Gassendi thought it not unworthy of him to enter into a prolix confutation of the Fluddian philosophy.[168]

[167] This was a favourite doctrine of Paracelsus. Campanella was much too fanciful not to embrace it. Mundus, he says, habet spiritum qui est cœlum, crassum corpus quod est terra, sanguinem qui est mare. Homo igitur compendium epilogusque mundi est. De Sensu Rerum, l. ii. c. 32.

[168] Brucker, iv. 691. Buhle, iii. 157.

Jacob Behmen. 20. Jacob Behmen, or rather Boehm, a shoemaker of Gorlitz, is far more generally familiar to our ears than his contemporary Fludd. He was, however, much inferior to him in reading, and in fact seems to have read little but the Bible and the writings of Paracelsus. He recounts the visions and ecstasies during which a supernatural illumination had been conveyed to him. It came indeed without the gift of transferring the light to others; for scarce any have been able to pierce the clouds in which his meaning has been charitably presumed to lie hid. The chief work of Behmen is his Aurora, written about 1612, and containing a record of the visions wherein the mysteries of nature were revealed to him. It was not published till 1641. He is said to have been a man of great goodness of heart, which his writings display; but, in literature, this cannot give a sanction to the incoherencies of madness. His language, as far as I have seen any extracts from his works, is coloured with the phraseology of the alchemists and astrologers; as for his philosophy, so to style it, we find according to Brucker, who has taken some pains with the subject, manifest traces of the system of emanation, so ancient and so attractive; and from this and several other reasons, he is inclined to think the unlearned shoemaker of Gorlitz must have had assistance from men of more education in developing his visions.[169] But the emanative theory is one into which a mind absorbed in contemplation may very naturally fall. Behmen had his disciples, which such enthusiasts rarely want; and his name is sufficiently known to justify the mention of it even in philosophical history.

[169] Brucker, iv. 698.

Lord Herbert De Veritate 21. We come now to an English writer of a different class, little known as such at present, but who, without doing much for the advancement of metaphysical philosophy, had at least the merit of devoting to it with a sincere and independent spirit the leisure of high rank, and of a life not [Pg 465] obscure in the world—Lord Herbert of Cherbury. The principal work of this remarkable man is his Latin treatise, published in 1624, “On truth as it is distinguished from Revelation, from Probability, from Possibility, and from Falsehood.” Its object is to inquire what are the sure means of discerning and discovering truth. This, as, like other authors, he sets out by proclaiming, had been hitherto done by no one, and he treats both ancient and modern philosophers rather haughtily, as being men tied to particular opinions, from which they dare not depart. “It is not from an hypocritical or mercenary writer, that we are to look for perfect truth. Their interest is not to lay aside their mask, or think for themselves. A liberal and independent author alone will do this.” [170] So general an invective, after Lord Bacon, and indeed after others, like Campanella, who could not be charged with following any conceits rather than their own, bespeaks either ignorance of philosophical literature, or a supercilious neglect of it.

[170] Non est igitur a larvatoaliquo vel stipendioso scriptore ut verum consummatum opperiaris: Illorum apprime interest ne personam deponant, vel aliter quidem sentiant. Ingenuus et sui arbitrii ista solummodo præstabit auctor. Epist. ad Lectorem.

His axioms. 22. Lord Herbert lays down seven primary axioms. 1. Truth exists: 2. It is coeval with the things to which it relates: 3. It exists everywhere: 4. It is self-evident:[171] 5. There are as many truths, as there are differences in things: 6. These differences are made known to us by our natural faculties: 7. There is a truth belonging to these truths; “Est veritas quædam harum veritatum.” This axiom he explains as obscurely, as it is strangely expressed. All truth he then distinguishes into the truth of the thing or object, the truth of the appearance, the truth of the perception, and the truth of the understanding. The truth of the object is the inherent conformity of the object with itself, or that which makes everything what it is.[172] The truth of appearance is the conditional conformity of the appearance with the object. The truth of perception is the conditional conformity of our senses (facultates nostras prodromas) with the appearances of things. The truth of understanding is the due conformity between the aforesaid conformities. All truth, therefore, is conformity, all conformity relation. Three things are to be observed in every inquiry after truth; the thing or object, the sense or faculty, and the laws or conditions by which its conformity or relation is determined. Lord Herbert is so obscure, partly by not thoroughly grasping his subject, partly by writing in Latin, partly perhaps by the “sphalmata et errata in typographo, quædam fortasse in seipso,” of which he complains at the end, that it has been necessary to omit several sentences as unintelligible, though what I have just given is far enough from being too clear.

[171] Hæc veritas est in se manifesta. He observes that what are called false appearances, are true as such, though not true according to the reality of the object: sua veritas apparentiæ falsæ inest, verè enim ita apparebit, vera tamen ex veritate rei non erit.

[172] Inhærens illa conformitas rei cum seipsa, sive illa ratio, ex qua res unaquæque sibi constant.

Conditions of truth. 23. Truth, he goes on to say, exists as to the object, or outward thing itself, when our faculties are capable of determining everything concerning it; but though this definition is exact, it is doubtful whether any such truth exists in nature. The first condition of discerning truth in things, is that they should have a relation to ourselves; (ut intra nostram stet analogiam) since multitudes of things may exist which the senses cannot discover. The three chief conditions of this condition seem to be: 1. That it should be of a proper size, neither immense, nor too small; 2. That it should have its determining difference, or principle of individuation, to distinguish it from other things; 3. That it should be accommodated to some sense or perceptive faculty. These are the universally necessary conditions of truth (that is of knowledge) as it regards the object. The truth of appearance depends on others, which are more particular; as that the object should be perceived for a sufficient time, through a proper medium, at a due distance, in a proper situation.[173] Truth of perception is conditional also, and its conditions are, that the sense should be sound, and the attention directed towards it. Truth of understanding depends on the κοιναι εννοιαι, the common notions possessed by every man of sane mind, and implanted by nature. The understanding teaches us by means of these, that infinity and eternity exist, though our senses cannot perceive [Pg 466] them. The understanding deals also with universals, and truth is known as to universals, when the particulars are rightly apprehended.

[173] Lord Herbert defines appearance, icetypum, seu forma vicaria rei, quæ sub conditionibus istis cum prototypo suo conformata, cum conceptu denuo sub conditionibus etiam suis, conformari et modo quodam spirituali, tanquam ab objecto decisa, etiam in objecti absentia conservari potest.

Instinctive truths. 24. Our faculties are as numerous as the differences of things; and thus it is, that the world corresponds by perfect analogy to the human soul, degrees of perception being as much distinct from one another as different modes of it. All our powers may however be reduced to four heads; natural instinct, internal perception, external sensation, and reason. What is not known by one of these four means cannot be known at all. Instinctive truths are proved by universal consent. Here he comes to his general basis of religion, maintaining the existence of κοιναι εννοιαι or common notions of mankind, on that subject, principles against which no one can dispute, without violating the laws of his nature.[174] Natural instinct he defines to be an act of those faculties existing in every man of sane mind, by which the common notions as to the relations of things not perceived by the senses, (rerum internarum) and especially such as tend to the conversation of the individual, of the species, and of the whole, are formed without any process of reasoning. These common notions, though excited in us by the objects of sense, are not conveyed to us by them; they are implanted in us by nature, so that God seems to have imparted to us not only a part of his image, but of his wisdom.[175] And whatever is understood and perceived by all men alike deserves to be accounted one of these notions. Some of them are instinctive, others are deduced from such as are. The former are distinguishable by six marks; priority, independence, universality, certainty; so that no man can doubt them without putting off as it were his nature, necessity, that is, usefulness for the preservation of man; lastly, intuitive apprehension, for these common notions do not require to be inferred.[176]

[174] Principia illa sacrosancta, contra quæ disputare nefas. p. 44. I have translated this in the best sense I could give it; but to use fas or nefas, before we have defined their meaning, or proved their existence, is but indifferent logic.

[175] P. 48.

[176] P. 60.

Internal perceptions. 25. Internal perceptions denote the conformity of objects with those faculties existing in every man of sane mind, which, being developed by his natural instinct, are conversant with the internal relations of things, in a secondary and particular manner, and by means of natural instinct.[177] By this ill-worded definition he probably intends to distinguish the general power, or instinctive knowledge, from its exercise and application in any instance. But I have found it very difficult to follow Lord Herbert. It is by means, he says, of these internal senses that we discern the nature of things in their intrinsic relations, or hidden types of being.[178] And it is necessary well to distinguish the conforming faculty in the mind or internal perception, from the bodily sense. The cloudiness of his expression increases as we proceed, and in many pages I cannot venture to translate or abridge it. The injudicious use of a language in which he did not write with facility, and which is not very well adapted, at the best, to metaphysical disquisition, has doubtless increased the perplexity into which he has thrown his readers.

[177] Sensus interni sunt actus conformitatum objectorum cum facultatibus illis in omni homine sano et integro existentibus, quæ ab instinctu naturali expositæ, circa analogiam rerum internam, particulariter, secondario, et ratione instinctûs naturalis versantur. p. 66.

[178] Circa analogiam rerum internam, sive signaturas et characteras rerum penitiores versantur. p. 68.

Five natural notions of natural religion. 26. In the conclusion of this treatise, Herbert lays down the five common notions of natural religion, implanted, as he conceives, in the breasts of all mankind. 1. That there is a God; 2. That he ought to be worshipped; 3. That virtue and piety are the chief parts of worship; 4. That we are to repent and turn from our sins; 5. That they are rewards and punishments in another life.[179] Nothing can be admitted in religion which contradicts these primary notions; but if any one has a revelation from heaven in addition to these, which may happen to him sleeping or waking, he should keep it to himself, since nothing can be of importance to the human race, which is not established by the evidence of their common faculties. Nor can anything be known to be revealed, which is not revealed to ourselves; all else being tradition and historic testimony, which does not amount to knowledge. The specific difference of man from other animals he makes not reason, but the capacity of religion. It is a curious coincidence, that John Wesley has said something of the same kind.[180] It is also [Pg 467] remarkable that we find in another work of Lord Herbert, De Religione Gentilium, which dwells again on his five articles of natural religion, essential, as he expressly lays it down, to salvation, the same illustration of the being of a Deity from the analogy of a watch or clock, which Paley has since employed. I believe that it occurs in an intermediate writer.[181]

[179] P. 222.

[180] I have somewhere read a profound remark of Wesley, that, considering the sagacity which many animals display, we cannot fix upon reason as the distinction between them and man; the true difference is, that we are formed to know God, and they are not.

[181] Et quidem si horologium per diem et noctem integram horas signanter indicans, viderit quispiam non mente captus, id consilio arteque summa factum judicaverit. Ecquis non planè demens, qui hanc mundi machinam non per viginti quatuor horas tantum, sed per tot sæcula circuitus suos obeuntem animadverterit, non id omne sapientissimo utique potentissimoque alicui autori tribuat? De Relig. Gentil., cap. xiii.

Remarks of Gassendi on Herbert. 27. Lord Herbert sent a copy of his treatise De Veritate several years after its publication to Gassendi. We have a letter to the noble author in the third volume of the works of that philosopher, showing, in the candid and sincere spirit natural to him, the objections that struck his mind in reading the book.[182] Gassendi observes that the distinctions of four kinds of truth are not new; the veritas rei of Lord Herbert being what is usually called substance, his veritas apparentiæ no more than accident, and the other two being only sense and reason. Gassendi seems not wholly to approve, but gives us the best, a definition of truth little differing from Herbert’s, the agreement of the cognizant intellect with the thing known: “Intellectûs cognoscentis cum re cognita congruentia.” The obscurity of the treatise De Veritate could ill suit an understanding like that of Gassendi, always tending to acquire clear conceptions; and though he writes with great civility, it is not without smartly opposing what he does not approve. The aim of Lord Herbert’s work, he says, is that the intellect may pierce into the nature of things, knowing them as they are in themselves without the fallacies of appearance and sense. But for himself he confesses that such knowledge he has always found above him, and that he is in darkness when he attempts to investigate the real nature of the least thing; making many of the observations on this which we read also in Locke. And he well says that we have enough for our use in the accidents or appearances of things without knowing their substances, in reply to Herbert, who had declared that we should be miserably deficient, if, while nature has given us senses to discern sounds and colours and such fleeting qualities of things, we had no sure road to eternal, and necessary truths.[183] The universality of those innate principles, especially moral and religious, on which his correspondent had built so much, is doubted by Gassendi on the usual grounds, that many have denied, or been ignorant of them. The letter is imperfect, some sheets of the autograph having been lost.

[182] Gassendi Opera, iii. 411.

[183] Misere nobiscum actum esset, si ad percipiendos colores, sonos et qualitates cæteras caducas atque momentaneas subessent media, nulla autem ad veritates illas internas, æternas, necessarias sine errore superesset via.

28. Too much space may seem to have been bestowed on a writer who cannot be ranked high among metaphysicians. But Lord Herbert was not only a distinguished name, but may claim the precedence among those philosophers in England. If his treatise De Veritate is not as an entire work very successful, or founded always upon principles which have stood the test of severe reflection, it is still a monument of an original, independent thinker, without rhapsodies of imagination, without pedantic technicalities, and above all, bearing witness to a sincere love of the truth he sought to apprehend. The ambitious expectation that the real essences of things might be discovered, if it were truly his, as Gassendi seems to suppose, could not be warranted by anything, at least within the knowledge of that age. But from some expressions of Herbert I should infer that he did not think our faculties competent to solve the whole problem of quiddity, as the logicians called it, or the real nature of anything, at least, objectively without us.[184] He is indeed so obscure, that I will not vouch for his entire consistency. It has been an additional motive to say as much as I have done concerning Lord Herbert, that I know not where any account of his treatise De Veritate will be found. Brucker is strangely silent about this writer, and Buhle has merely adverted to the letter of Gassendi. Descartes has spoken of Lord Herbert’s book with much respect, though several of their leading [Pg 468] principles were far from the same. It was translated into French in 1639, and this translation he found less difficult than the original.[185]

[184] Cum facultates nostræ ad analogiam propriam terminatæ quidditates rerum intimas non penetrent: ideo quid res naturalis in seipsa sit, tali ex analogia ad nos ut sit constituta, perfecte sciri non potest, p. 165. Instead of sit, it might be better to read est. In another place he says, it is doubtful whether anything exists in nature, concerning which we have a complete knowledge. The eternal and necessary truths which Herbert contends for our knowing, seem to have been his communes notitiæ, subjectively understood, rather than such as relate to external objects.

[185] Descartes, vol. viii., p. 138 and 168. J’y trouve plusieurs choses fort bonnes, sed non publici saporis; car il y a peu de personnes qui soient capables d’entendre la métaphysique. Et, pour le général du livre, il tient un chemin fort différent de celui que j’ai suivi.... Enfin, par conclusion, encore que je ne puisse m’accorder en tout aux sentimens de cet auteur, je ne laisse pas de l’estimer beaucoup au-dessus des esprits ordinaires.

Gassendi’s defence of Epicurus. 29. Gassendi himself ought, perhaps, to be counted wholly among the philosophers of this period, since many of his writings were published, and all may have been completed within it. They are contained in six large folio volumes, rather closely printed. The Exercitationes Paradoxicæ, published in 1624, are the earliest. These contain an attack on the logic of Aristotle, the fortress that so many bold spirits were eager to assail. But in more advanced life Gassendi withdrew in great measure from this warfare, and his Logic, in the Syntagma Philosophicum, the record of his latest opinions, is chiefly modelled on the Aristotelian, with sufficient commendation of its author. In the study of ancient philosophy, however, Gassendi was impressed with an admiration of Epicurus. His physical theory, founded on corpuscles and a vacuum, his ethics, in their principle and precepts, his rules of logic and guidance of the intellect, seemed to the cool and independent mind of the French philosopher more worthy of regard than the opposite schemes prevailing in the schools, and not to be rejected on account of any discredit attached to the name. Combining with the Epicurean physics and ethics the religious element which had been unnecessarily discarded from the philosophy of the Garden, Gassendi displayed both in a form no longer obnoxious. The Syntagma Philosophiæ Epicuri, published in 1649, is an elaborate vindication of this system, which he had previously expounded in a commentary on the tenth book of Diogenes Laertius. He had already effaced the prejudices against Epicurus himself, whom he seems to have regarded with the affection of a disciple, in a biographical treatise on his life and moral character.

His chief works after 1650. 30. Gassendi died in 1656; the Syntagma Philosophicum, his greatest as well as last work, in which it is natural to seek the whole scheme of his philosophy, was published by his friend Sorbière in 1658. We may, therefore, properly defer the consideration of his metaphysical writings to the next period: but the controversy in which he was involved with Descartes will render it necessary to bring his name forward again before the close of this chapter.

Sect. II.

On the Philosophy of Lord Bacon.

Preparation for the philosophy of. 31. It may be judged from what has been said in a former volume, as well as in our last pages, that at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the higher philosophy which is concerned with general truth, and the means of knowing it, had been little benefitted by the labours of any modern inquirer. It was become indeed no strange thing, at least out of the air of a college, to question the authority of Aristotle; but his disciples pointed with scorn at the endeavours which had as yet been made to supplant it, and asked whether the wisdom so long reverenced was to be set aside for the fanatical reveries of Paracelsus, the unintelligible chimæras of Bruno, or the more plausible, but arbitrary, hypotheses of Telesio.

Lord Bacon. 32. Francis Bacon was born in 1561.[186] He came to years of manhood at the time when England was rapidly emerging from ignorance and obsolete methods of study, in an age of powerful minds, full himself of ambition, confidence and energy. If we think on the public history of Bacon, even during the least public portion of it, philosophy must appear to have been but his amusement; it was by his hours of leisure, by time hardly missed from the laborious study and practice of the law and from the assiduities of a courtier’s life, that he became the father of modern science. This union of an active with a reflecting life had been the boast of some ancients, of Cicero and Antonine; but what comparison, in depth and originality, between their philosophy and that of Bacon?

[186] Those who place Lord Bacon’s birth in 1560, as Mr. Montagu has done, must be understood to follow the old style, which creates some confusion. He was born the 22nd of January, and died the 9th of April, 1626, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, as we are told in his life by Rawley, the best authority we have.

His plan of philosophy. 33. This wonderful man, in sweeping round the champaign of universal science with his powerful genius, found as little to praise in [Pg 469] the recent, as in the ancient methods of investigating truth. He liked as little the empirical presumption of drawing conclusions from a partial experience as the sophistical dogmatism which relied on unwarranted axioms and verbal chicane. All, he thought, was to be constructed anew; the investigation of facts, their arrangement for the purposes of inquiry, the process of eliciting from them the required truth. And for this he saw, that, above all, a thorough purgation of the mind itself would be necessary, by pointing out its familiar errors, their sources, and their remedies.

Time of its conception. 34. It is not exactly known at what age Bacon first conceived the scheme of a comprehensive philosophy, but it was, by his own account, very early in life.[187] Such noble ideas are most congenial to the sanguine spirit of youth, and to its ignorance of the extent of labour it undertakes. In the dedication of the Novum Organum to James in 1620, he says that he had been about some such work near thirty years, “so as I made no haste.” “And the reason,” he adds, “why I have published it now, specially being imperfect, is, to speak plainly, because I number my days, and would have it saved. There is another reason of my so doing, which is to try whether I can get help in one intended part of this work, namely, the compiling of a natural and experimental history, which must be the main foundation of a true and active philosophy.” He may be presumed at least to have made a very considerable progress in his undertaking, before the close of the sixteenth century. But it was first promulgated to the world by the publication of his Treatise on the Advancement of Learning in 1605. In this, indeed, the whole of the Baconian philosophy may be said to be implicitly contained, except perhaps the second book of the Novum Organum. In 1623, he published his more celebrated Latin translation of this work, if it is not rather to be deemed a new one, entitled, De Augmentis Scientiarum. I find, upon comparison, that more than two thirds of this treatise are a version, with slight interpolation or omission, from the Advancement of Learning, the remainder being new matter.

[187] In a letter to Father Fulgentio, which bears no date in print, but must have been written about 1624, he refers to a juvenile work about forty years before, which he had confidently entitled The Greatest Birth of Time. Bacon says: Equidem memini me quadraginta abhinc annis juvenile opusculum circa has res confecisse, quod magna prorsus fiducia et magnifico titulo, “Temporis partum maximum” inscripsi. The apparent vain-glory of this title is somewhat extenuated by the sense he gave to the phrase Birth of Time. He meant that the lapse of time and long experience were the natural sources of a better philosophy, as he says in his dedication of the Instauratio Magna: Ipse certè, ut ingenue fateor, soleo, æstimare hoc opus magis pro partu temporis quam ingenii. Illud enim in eo solummodo mirabile est, initia rei et tantas de iis quæ invaluerunt suspiciones, alicui in mentem venire potuisse. Cætera non illibenter sequuntur.

No treatise with this precise title appears. But we find prefixed to some of the short pieces a general title, Temporis Partus Masculus, sive Instauratio Magna Imperii Universi in Humanum. These treatises, however, though earlier than his great works, cannot be referred to so juvenile a period as his letter to Fulgentio intimates, and I should rather incline to suspect that the opusculum to which he there refers, has not been preserved. Mr. Montagu is of a different opinion. See his Note I. to the life of Bacon in vol. xvi. of his edition. The Latin tract De Interpretatione Naturæ Mr. M. supposes to be the germ of the Instauratio, as the Cogitata et Visa are of the Novum Organum. I do not dissent from this; but the former bears marks of having been written after Bacon had been immersed in active life. The most probable conjecture appears to be that he very early perceived the meagreness and imperfection of the academical course of philosophy, and of all others which fell in his way, and formed the scheme of affording something better from his own resources: but that he did not commit much to paper, nor had planned his own method till after he was turned thirty, which his letter to the King intimates.

In a recent and very brilliant sketch of the Baconian philosophy (Edinb. Review, July, 1837), the two leading principles that distinguish it throughout all its parts, are justly denominated utility and progress. To do good to mankind, and do more and more good, are the ethics of its inductive method. We may only regret that the ingenious author of this article has been hurried sometimes into the low and contracted view of the deceitful word utility, which regards rather the enjoyments of physical convenience, than the general well-being of the individual and the species. If Bacon looked more frequently to the former, it was because so large a portion of his writings relates to physical observation and experiment. But it was far enough from his design to set up physics in any sort of opposition to ethics, much less in a superior light. I dissent also from some of the observations in this article, lively as they are, which tend to depreciate the originality and importance of the Baconian methods. The reader may turn to a note on this subject by Dugald Stewart, at the end of the present section.

Instauratio Magna. 35. The Instauratio Magna had been already published in 1620, while Lord Bacon [Pg 470] was still chancellor. Fifteen years had elapsed since he gave to the world his Advancement of Learning, the first fruits of such astonishing vigour of philosophical genius, that, inconceivable as the completion of the scheme he had even then laid down in prospect for his new philosophy by any single effort must appear, we may be disappointed at the great deficiencies which this latter work exhibits, and which he was not destined to fill up. But he had passed the interval in active life, and in dangerous paths, deserting, as in truth he had all along been prone enough to do, the “shady spaces of philosophy,” as Milton calls them, for the court of a sovereign, who with some real learning, was totally incapable of sounding the depths of Lord Bacon’s mind, or even of estimating his genius.

First Part: Partitiones Scientiarum. 36. The Instauratio Magna, dedicated to James, is divided, according to the magnificent groundplot of its author, into six parts. The first of these he entitles Partitiones Scientiarum, comprehending a general summary of that knowledge which mankind already possess; yet not merely treating this affirmatively, but taking special notice of whatever should seem deficient or imperfect; sometimes even supplying, by illustration or precept, these vacant spaces of science. This first part he declares to be wanting in the Instauratio. It has been chiefly supplied by the treatise De Augmentis Scientiarum; yet perhaps even that does not fully come up to the amplitude of his design.

Second part: Novum Organum. 37. The second part of the Instauratio was to be, as he expresses it “the science of a better and more perfect use of reason in the investigation of things, and of the true aids of the understanding,” the new logic, or inductive method, in which what is eminently styled the Baconian philosophy consists. This, as far as he completed it, is known to all by the name of the Novum Organum. But he seems to have designed a fuller treatise in place of this; the aphorisms into which he has digested it being rather the heads or theses of chapters, at least in many places, that would have been further expanded.[188] And it is still more important to observe, that he did not achieve the whole of this summary that he had promised; but out of nine divisions of his method we only possess the first, which he denominates prærogative instantiarum. Eight others, of exceeding importance in logic, he has not touched at all, except to describe them by name and to promise more. “We will speak,” he says, “in the first place, of prerogative instances; secondly, of the aids of induction; thirdly, of the rectification of induction; fourthly, of varying the investigation according to the nature of the subject; fifthly, of prerogative natures (or objects), as to investigation, or the choice of what shall be first inquired into; sixthly, of the boundaries of inquiry, or the synoptical view of all natures in the world; seventhly, on the application of inquiry to practice, and what relates to man; eighthly, on the preparations (parascevis) for inquiry; lastly, on the ascending and descending scale of axioms.”[189] All these, after the first, are wanting, with the exception of some slightly handled in separate parts of Bacon’s writings; and the deficiency, which is so important, seems to have been sometimes overlooked by those who have written about the Novum Organum.

[188] It is entitled by himself, Partis secundæ Summa, digesta in aphorismos.

[189] Dicemus itaque primo loco de prærogativis instantiarum; secundo, de adminiculis inductiones; tertio, de rectificatione inductionis; quarto, de variatione inquisitionis pro natura subjecti; quinto, de prærogativis naturarum quatenus ad inquisitionem, sive de eo quod inquirendum est prius et posterius; sexto, de terminis inquisitionis, sive de synopsi omnium naturarum in universo; septimo, de deductione ad praxin, sive de eo quod est in ordine ad hominem; octavo, de parascevis ad inquisitionem; postremo autem, de scala ascensoria et descensoria axiomatum, lib. ii. 22.

Third part: Natural History. 38. The third part of the Instauratio Magna was to comprise an entire natural history, diligently and scrupulously collected from experience of every kind; including under that name of natural history everything wherein the art of man has been employed on natural substances either for practice or experiment; no method of reasoning being sufficient to guide us to truth as to natural things, if they are not themselves clearly and exactly apprehended. It is unnecessary to observe that very little of this immense chart of nature could be traced by the hand of Bacon, or in his time. His Centuries of Natural History, containing about one thousand observed facts and experiments, are a very slender contribution towards such a description of universal nature as he contemplated; these form no part of the Instauratio Magna, and had been compiled before. But he enumerates one hundred and thirty particular histories which ought to be drawn up for his great work. A few [Pg 471] of these he has given in a sort of skeleton, as samples rather of the method of collecting facts, than of the facts themselves; namely, the History of Winds, of Life and Death, of Density and Rarity, of Sound and Hearing.

Fourth part: Scala Intellectûs. 39. The fourth part, called Scala Intellectûs, is also wanting with the exception of a very few introductory pages. “By these tables,” says Bacon, “we mean not such examples as we subjoin to the several rules of our method, but types and models, which place before our eyes the entire process of the mind in the discovery of truth, selecting various and remarkable instances.”[190] These he compares to the diagrams of geometry, by attending to which the steps of the demonstration become perspicuous. Though the great brevity of his language in this place renders it rather difficult to see clearly what he understood by these models, some light appears to be thrown on this passage by one in the treatise De Augmentis, where he enumerates among the desiderata of logic what he calls traditio lampadis, or a delivery of any science or particular truth according to the order wherein it was discovered.[191] “The methods of geometers,” he there says, “have some resemblance to this art;” which is not, however, the case as to the synthetical geometry with which we are generally conversant. It is the history of analytical investigation, and many beautiful illustrations of it have been given since the days of Bacon in all subjects to which that method of inquiry has been applied.

[190] Neque de iis exemplis loquimur, quæ singulis præceptis ac regulis illustrandi gratia adjiciuntur, hoc enim in secunda operis parte abunde præstitimus, sed plane typos intelligimus ac plasmata, quæ universum mentis processum atque inveniendi continuatam fabricam et ordinem in certis subjectis, iisque variis et insignibus tanquam sub oculos ponant. Etenim nobis venit in mentem in mathematicis, astente machina, sequi demonstrationem facilem et perspicuam; contra absque hac commoditate omnia videri involuta et quam revera sunt subtiliora.

[191] Lib. vi. cap. 2. Scientia quæ aliis tanquam tela pertexendo traditur, eadem methodo, si fieri possit, animo alterius est insinuanda, qua primitus inventa est. Atque hoc ipsum fieri sane potest in scientia per inductionem acquisita: sed in anticipata ista et præmatura scientia, qua utimur, non facile dicat quis quo itinere ad eam quam nactus est scientiam pervenerit. Attamen sane secundum majus et minus possit quis scientiam propriam revisere, et vestigia suæ cognitionis simul et consensûs remetiri; atque hoc facto scientiam sic transplantare in animum alienum, sicut crevit in suo.... Cujus quidem generis traditionis, methodus mathematicorum in eo subjecto similitudinem quandam habet. I do not well understand the words, in eo subjecto; he may possibly have referred to analytical processes.

Fifth part: Anticipationes Philosophiæ. 40. In the fifth part of the Instauratio Magna, Bacon had designed to give a specimen of the new philosophy which he hoped to raise after a due use of his natural history and inductive method, by way of anticipation or sample of the whole. He calls it Prodromi, sive Anticipationes Philosophiæ Secundæ. And some fragments of this part are published by the names Cogitata et Visa, Cogitationes de Natura Rerum, Filum Labyrinthi, and a few more, being as much, in all probability, as he had reduced to writing. In his own metaphor, it was to be like the payment of interest, till the principal could be raised; tanquam fœnus reddatur, donec sors haberi possit. |Sixth part: Philosophia Secunda.| For he despaired of ever completing the work by a sixth and last portion, which was to display a perfect system of philosophy, deduced and confirmed by a legitimate, sober, and exact inquiry according to the method which he had invented and laid down. “To perfect this last part is above our powers and beyond our hopes. We may, as we trust, make no despicable beginnings, the destinies of the human race must complete it; in such a manner, perhaps, as men, looking only at the present, would not readily conceive. For upon this will depend not only a speculative good, but all the fortunes of mankind, and all their power.” And with an eloquent prayer that his exertions may be rendered effectual to the attainment of truth and happiness, this introductory chapter of the Instauratio, which announces the distribution of its portions, concludes. Such was the temple, of which Bacon saw in vision before him the stately front and decorated pediments, in all their breadth of light and harmony of proportion, while long vistas of receding columns and glimpses of internal splendour revealed a glory that it was not permitted him to comprehend. In the treatise De Augmentis Scientiarum, and in the Novum Organum, we have less, no doubt, than Lord Bacon, under different conditions of life, might have achieved; he might have been more emphatically the high-priest of nature, if he had not been the chancellor of James I.; but no one man could have filled up the vast outline which he alone, in that stage of the world, could have so boldly sketched. [Pg 472]

Course of studying Lord Bacon. 41. The best order of studying the Baconian philosophy would be to read attentively the Advancement of Learning; next, to take the treatise De Augmentis, comparing it all along with the former, and afterwards to proceed to the Novum Organum. A less degree of regard has usually been paid to the Centuries of Natural History, which are the least important of his writings, or even to the other philosophical fragments, some of which contain very excellent passages; yet such, in great measure, as will be found substantially in other parts of his works. The most remarkable are the Cogitata et Visa. It must be said, that one who thoroughly venerates Lord Bacon will not disdain his repetitions, which sometimes, by variations of phrase, throw light upon each other. It is generally supposed that the Latin works were translated by several assistants, among whom Herbert and Hobbes have been named, under the author’s superintendence.[192] The Latin style of these writings is singularly concise, energetic and impressive, but frequently crabbed, uncouth and obscure; so that we read with more admiration of the sense than delight in the manner of delivering it. But Rawley, in his Life of Bacon, informs us that he had seen about twelve autographs of the Novum Organum, wrought up and improved year by year, till it reached the shape in which it was published, and he does not intimate that these were in English, unless the praise he immediately afterwards bestows on his English style may be thought to warrant that supposition.[193] I do not know that we have evidence as to any of the Latin works being translations from English, except the treatise De Augmentis.

[192] The translation was made, as Archbishop Tenison informs us, “by Mr. Herbert and some others, who were esteemed masters in the Roman eloquence.”

[193] Ipse reperi in archivis dominationis suæ, autographa plus minus duodecim Organi Novi de anno in annum elaborati, et ad incudem revocati, et singulis annis, ulteriore lima subinde politi et castigati, donec in illud tandem corpus adoleverat, quo in lucem editum fuit; sicut multa ex animalibus fœtus lambere consuescunt usque quo ad membrorum firmitudinem eos perducant. In libris suis componendis verborum vigorem et perspicuitatem præcipuè sectabatur, non elegantiam aut concinnitatem sermonis, et inter scribendum aut dictandum sæpe interrogavit, num sensus ejus clare admodum et perspicuè redditus esset? Quippe qui sciret æquum esse ut verba famularentur rebus, non res verbis. Et si in stylum forsitan politiorem incidisset, siquidem apud nostrates eloquii Anglicani artifex habitus est, id evenit, quia evitare arduum ei erat.

42. The leading principles of the Baconian philosophy are contained in the Advancement of Learning. These are amplified, corrected, illustrated, and developed in the treatise De Augmentis Scientiarum, from the fifth book of which, with some help from other parts, is taken the first book of the Novum Organum, and even a part of the second. I use this phrase, because, though earlier in publication, I conceive that the Novum Organum was later in composition. All the very important part of this fifth book which relates to Experientia Litterata, or Venatio Panis, as he calls it, and contains excellent rules for conducting experiments in natural philosophy, is new, and does not appear in the Advancement of Learning, except by way of promise of what should be done in it. Nor is this, at least so fully and clearly, to be found in the Novum Organum. The second book of this latter treatise he professes not to anticipate. De Novo Organo silemus, he says, neque de eo quicquam prælibamus. This can only apply to the second book, which he considered as the real exposition of his method, after clearing away the fallacies which form the chief subject of the first. Yet what is said of Topica particularis, in this fifth book De Augmentis (illustrated by “articles of inquiry concerning gravity and levity”), goes entirely on the principles of the second book of the Novum Organum.

Nature of the Baconian Induction. 43. Let us now see what Lord Bacon’s method really was. He has given it the name of induction, but carefully distinguishes it from what bore that name in the old logic, that is, an inference from a perfect enumeration of particulars to a general law of the whole. For such an enumeration, though of course conclusive, is rarely practicable in nature, where the particulars exceed our powers of numbering.[194] Nor again is the Baconian method to [Pg 473] be confounded with the less complete form of the inductive process, namely, inferences from partial experience in similar circumstances; though this may be a very sufficient ground for practical, which is probable knowledge. His own method rests on the same general principle, namely, the uniformity of the laws of nature, so that in certain conditions of phænomena the same effects or the same causes may be assumed; but it endeavours to establish these laws on a more exact and finer process of reasoning than partial experience can effect. For the recurrence of antecedents, and consequents does not prove a necessary connection between them, unless we can exclude the presence of all other conditions which may determine the event. Long and continued experience of such a recurrence, indeed, raises a high probability of a necessary connexion; but the aim of Bacon was to supersede experience in this sense, and to find a shorter road to the result; and for this his methods of exclusion are devised. As complete and accurate a collection of facts, connected with the subject of inquiry, as possible is to be made out by means of that copious natural history which he contemplated, or from any other good sources. These are to be selected, compared, and scrutinized, according to the rules of natural interpretation delivered in the second book of the Novum Organum, or such others as he designed to add to them; and if experiments are admissible, these are to be conducted according to the same rules. Experience and observation are the guides through the Baconian philosophy, which is the handmaid and interpreter of nature. When Lord Bacon seems to decry experience, which in certain passages he might be thought to do, it is the particular and empirical observation of individuals, from which many rash generalisations had been drawn, as opposed to that founded on an accurate natural history. Such hasty inferences he reckoned still more pernicious [Pg 474] to true knowledge than the sophistical methods of the current philosophy; and, in a remarkable passage, after censuring this precipitancy of empirical conclusions in the chemists, and in Gilbert’s Treatise on the Magnet, utters a prediction that if ever mankind, excited by his counsels, should seriously betake themselves to seek the guidance of experience instead of relying on the dogmatic schools of the sophists, the proneness of the human mind to snatch at general axioms would expose them to much risk of error from the theories of this superficial class of philosophers.[195]

[194] Inductio quæ procedit per enumerationem simplicem, res puerilis est, et precario concludit, et periculo exponitur ab instantia contradictoria, et plerumque secundum pauciora quam par est, et ex his tantummodo quæ præsto sunt, pronuntiat. At inductio quæ ad inventionem et demonstrationem scientiarum et artium erit utilis, naturam separare debet, per rejectiones et exclusiones debitas; ac deinde post negativas tot quot sufficiunt, super affirmativas concludere; quod adhuc factum non est, nec tentatum certe, nisi tantummodo a Platone, qui ad excutiendas definitiones et ideas, hac certe forma inductionis aliquatenus utitur. Nov. Org. i. 105. In this passage Bacon seems to imply that the enumeration of particulars in any induction is or may be imperfect. This is certainly the case in the plurality of physical inductions; but it doss not appear that the logical writers looked upon this as the primary and legitimate sense. Induction was distinguished into the complete and incomplete. “The word,” says a very moderate writer, “is perhaps unhappy, as indeed it is taken in several vague senses; but to abolish it is impossible. It is the Latin translation of επαγωγη, which word is used by Aristotle as a counterpart to συλλογισμος. He seems to consider it in a perfect, or dialectic, and in an imperfect or rhetorical sense. Thus, if a genus (G.) contained four species (A. B. C. D.), syllogism would argue, that what is true of G. is true of any one of the four; but perfect induction would reason, that what we can prove true of A. B. C. D. separately, we may properly state as true of G., the whole genus. This is evidently a formal argument, as demonstrative as syllogism. But the imperfect or rhetorical induction will perhaps enumerate three only of the species, and then draw the conclusion concerning G., which virtually includes the fourth, or what is the same thing, will argue, that what is true of the three is to be believed true likewise of the fourth.” Newman’s Lectures on Logic, p. 73 (1837). The same distinction between perfect and imperfect induction is made in the Encyclopédie Françoise, art. Induction, and apparently on the authority of the ancients.

It may be observed, that this imperfect induction may be put in a regular logical form, and is only vicious in syllogistic reasoning when the conclusion asserts a higher probability than the premises. If, for example, we reason thus: Some serpents are venomous—This unknown animal is a serpent-Therefore, this is venomous; we are guilty of an obvious paralogism. If we infer only, This may be venomous, our reasoning is perfectly valid in itself, at least in the common apprehension of all mankind, except dialecticians, but not regular in form. The only means that I perceive of making it so, is to put it in some such phrase as the following: All unknown serpents are affected by a certain probability of being venomous: This animal, &c. It is not necessary, of course, that the probability should be capable of being estimated, provided we mentally conceive it to be no other in the conclusion than in the major term. In the best treatises on the strict or syllogistic method, as far as I have seen, there seems a deficiency in respect to probable conclusions, which may have arisen from the practice of taking instances from universal or necessary, rather than contingent truths, as well as from the contracted views of reasoning which the Aristotelian school have always inculcated. No sophisms are so frequent in practice as the concluding generally from a partial induction, or assuming (most commonly tacitly) by what Archbishop Whateley calls “a kind of logical fiction,” that a few individuals are “adequate samples or representations of the class they belong to.” These sophisms cannot, in the present state of things, be practised largely in physical science or natural history; but in reasonings on matter of fact they are of incessant occurrence. The “logical fiction” may indeed frequently be employed, even on subjects unconnected with the physical laws of nature; but to know when this may be, and to what extent, is just that which, far more than any other skill, distinguishes what is called a good reasoner from a bad one. This note will not, by an attentive reader, be thought inapposite to the text, or to some passages that will follow in the present chapter.

[195] Nov. Organ. lib. i. 64. It may be doubted whether Bacon did full justice to Gilbert.

His dislike of Aristotle. 44. The indignation, however, of Lord Bacon is more frequently directed against the predominant philosophy of his age, that of Aristotle and the schoolmen. Though he does justice to the great abilities of the former, and acknowledges the exact attention to facts displayed in his History of Animals, he deems him one of the most eminent adversaries to the only method that can guide us to the real laws of nature. The old Greek philosophers, Empedocles, Leucippus, Anaxagoras, and others of their age, who had been in the right track of investigation, stood much higher in his esteem than their successors, Plato, Zeno, Aristotle, by whose lustre they had been so much superseded, that both their works have perished and their tenets are with difficulty collected. These more distinguished leaders of the Grecian schools were in his eyes little else than disputatious professors (it must be remembered that Bacon had in general only physical science in his view) who seemed to have it in common with children, “ut ad garriendum prompti sint, generare non possint;” so wordy and barren was their miscalled wisdom.

His method much required. 45. Those who object to the importance of Lord Bacon’s precepts in philosophy that mankind have practised, many of them immemorially, are rather confirming their utility than taking off much from their originality in any fair sense of that term. Every logical method is built on the common faculties of human nature, which have been exercised since the creation in discerning, better or worse, truth from falsehood, and inferring the unknown from the known. That men might have done this more correctly, is manifest from the quantity of error into which, from want of reasoning well on what came before them, they have habitually fallen. In experimental philosophy, to which the more special rules of Lord Bacon are generally referred, there was a notorious want of that very process of reasoning which he has supplied. It is probable, indeed, that the great physical philosophers of the seventeenth century would have been led to employ some of his rules, had he never promulgated them; but I believe they had been little regarded in the earlier period of science.[196] It is also a very defective view of the Baconian method to look only at the experimental rules given in the Novum Organum. The preparatory steps of completely exhausting the natural history of the subject of inquiry by a patient and sagacious consideration of it in every light, are at least of equal importance, and equally prominent in the inductive philosophy.

[196] It has been remarked, that the famous experiment of Pascal on the barometer, by carrying it to a considerable elevation, was “a crucial instance, one of the first, if not the very first on record in physics.” Herschel, p. 229.

Its objects. 46. The first object of Lord Bacon’s philosophical writings is to prove their own necessity, by giving an unfavourable impression as to the actual state of most sciences, in consequence of the prejudices of the human mind, and of the mistaken methods pursued in their cultivation. The second was to point out a better prospect for the future. One of these occupies the treatise De Augmentis, and the first book of the Novum Organum. The other, besides many anticipations in these, is partially detailed in the second book, and would have been more thoroughly developed in those remaining portions which the author did not complete. We shall now give a very short sketch of these two famous works, which comprise the greater part of the Baconian philosophy.

Sketch of the treatise De Augmentis. 47. The Advancement of Learning is divided into two books only; the treatise De Augmentis into nine. The first of these, in the latter, is introductory, and designed to remove prejudices against the search for truth, by indicating the causes which had hitherto obstructed it. In the second book, he lays down his celebrated partition of human learning into history, poetry, and philosophy, according to the faculties of the mind respectively concerned in them, the memory, imagination and reason. |History.| History is natural or civil, under the latter of which ecclesiastical and literary histories [Pg 475] are comprised. These again fall into regular subdivisions; all of which he treats in summary manner, and points out the deficiencies which ought to be supplied in many departments of history. |Poetry.| Poetry succeeds in the last chapter of the same book, but by confining that name to fictitious narrative, except as to the ornaments of style, which he refers to a different part of his subject, he much limited his views of that literature; even if it were true, as it certainly is not, that the imagination alone, in any ordinary use of the word, is the medium of poetical emotion. The word emotion indeed is sufficient to show that Bacon should either have excluded poetry altogether from his enumeration of sciences and learning, or taken into consideration other faculties of the soul than those which are merely intellectual.

Fine passage on poetry. 48. Stewart has praised with justice a short but beautiful paragraph concerning poetry (under which title may be comprehended all the various creations of the faculty of imagination) wherein Bacon “has exhausted everything that philosophy and good sense have yet had to offer on the subject of what has since been called the beau idéal.” The same eminent writer and ardent admirer of Bacon observes that D’Alembert improved on the Baconian arrangement by classing the fine arts with poetry. Injustice had been done to painting and music, especially the former, when, in the fourth book De Augmentis, they were counted as mere “artes voluptariæ,” subordinate to a sort of Epicurean gratification of the senses, and only somewhat more liberal than cookery or cosmetics.

Natural Theology and Metaphysics. 49. In the third book, science having been divided into theological and philosophical, and the former, or what regards revealed religion, being postponed for the present, he lays it down that all philosophy relates to God, to nature, or to man. Under natural theology, as a sort of appendix, he reckons the doctrine of angels and superhuman spirits; a more favourite theme, especially as treated independently of revelation, in the ages that preceded Lord Bacon, than it has been since. Natural philosophy is speculative or practical; the former divided into physics, in a particular sense, and metaphysics; “one of which enquireth and handleth the material and efficient causes; the other handleth the formal and final causes.” Hence, physics dealing with particular instances, and regarding only the effects produced, is precarious in its conclusions, and does not reach the stable principles of causation.

Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit
Uno eodemque igni.

Metaphysics, to which word he gave a sense as remote from that which it bore in the Aristotelian schools, as from that in which it is commonly employed at present, had for its proper object the investigation of forms. It was “a generally received and inveterate opinion, that the inquisition of man is not competent to find out essential forms or true differences.” Formæ inventio, he says in another place, habetur pro desperata. The word form itself, being borrowed from the old philosophy, is not immediately intelligible to every reader. |Form of bodies.| “In the Baconian sense,” says Playfair, “form differs only from cause in being permanent, whereas, we apply cause to that which exists in order of time.” Form (natura naturans, as it was barbarously called) is the general law, or condition of existence, in any substance or quality (natura naturata), which is wherever its form is.[197] The conditions of a mathematical figure, prescribed in its definition, might in this sense be called its form, if it did not seem to be Lord Bacon’s intention to confine the word to the laws of particular sensible existences. In modern philosophy, it might be defined to be that particular combination of forces, which impresses a certain modification upon matter subjected to their influence.

[197] Licet enim in natura nihil vere existat præter corpora individua, edentia actus puros individuos ex lege, in doctrinis tamen illa ipsa lex, ejusque inquisitio, et inventio atque explicatio pro fundamento est tam ad sciendum quam operandum. Eam autem legem ejusque paragraphos, Formarum nomine intelligimus; præsertim cum hoc vocabulum invaluerit et familiariter occurrat. Nov. Org. ii. 2.

Might sometimes be inquired into. 50. To a knowledge of such forms, or laws of essence and existence, at least in a certain degree, it might be possible, in Bacon’s sanguine estimation of his own logic, for man to attain. Not that we could hope to understand the forms of complex beings, which are almost infinite in variety, but the simple and primary natures, which are combined in them. “To inquire the form of a lion, of an oak, of gold, nay of water, of air, is a vain pursuit; but to inquire the forms of sense, of voluntary [Pg 476] motion, of vegetation, of colours, of gravity and levity, of density and tenuity, of heat, of cold, and all other natures and qualities, which, like an alphabet, are not many, and of which the essences, upheld by matter, of all creatures do consist; to inquire, I say, the true forms of these is that part of metaphysic which we now define of.”[198] Thus, in the words he soon afterwards uses, “of natural philosophy, the basis is natural history; the stage next the basis is physic; the stage next the vertical point is metaphysic. As for the vertical point, ‘Opus quod operatur Deos a principio usque ad finem,’ the summary law of nature, we know not whether man’s inquiry can attain unto it.”[199]

[198] In the Novum Organum he seems to have gone a little beyond this, and to have hoped that the form itself of concrete things might be known. Datæ autem naturæ formam, sive differentiam veram, sive naturam naturantem, sive fontem emanationis (ista enim vocabula habemus, quæ ad indicationem rei proxime accedunt), invenire opus et intentio est Humanæ Scientiæ. Lib. ii. 1.

[199] Advancement of Learning, book ii. This sentence he has scarcely altered in the Latin.

Final causes too much slighted. 51. The second object of metaphysics, according to Lord Bacon’s notion of the word, was the investigation of final causes. It is well known that he has spoken of this with unguarded disparagement.[200] “Like a virgin consecrated to God, it bears nothing;” one of those witty conceits that sparkle over his writings, but will not bear a severe examination. It has been well remarked that almost at the moment he published this, one of the most important discoveries of his age, the circulation of the blood, had rewarded the acuteness of Harvey in reasoning on the final cause of the valves in the veins.

[200] Causa finalis tantum abest ut prosit, ut etiam scientias corrumpat, nisi in hominis actionibus. Nov. Org. ii. 2. It must be remembered that Bacon had good reason to deprecate the admixture of theological dogmas with philosophy, which had been, and has often since been, the absolute perversion of all legitimate reasoning in science. See what Stewart has said upon Lord Bacon’s objection to reasoning from final causes in physics. Philosophy of the Active and Moral Powers, book iii., chap. 2, sect. 4.

Man not included by him in physics. 52. Nature, or physical philosophy, according to Lord Bacon’s partition, did not comprehend the human species. Whether this be not more consonant to popular language, adopted by preceding systems of philosophy, than to a strict and perspicuous arrangement, may by some be doubted; though a very respectable authority, that of Dugald Stewart, is opposed to including man in the province of physics. For it is surely strange to separate the physiology of the human body, as quite a science of another class, from that of inferior animals; and if we place this part of our being under the department of physical philosophy, we shall soon be embarrassed by what Bacon has called the “doctrina de fœdere,” the science of the connection between the soul of man and his bodily frame, a vast and interesting field, even yet very imperfectly explored.

Man, in body and mind. 53. It has pleased, however, the author to follow his own arrangement. The fourth book relates to the constitution, bodily and mental, of mankind. In this book he has introduced several subdivisions which, considered merely as such, do not always appear the most philosophical; but the pregnancy and acuteness of his observations under each head silences all criticism of this kind. This book has nearly double the extent of the corresponding pages in the Advancement of Learning. The doctrine as to the substance of the thinking principle having been very slightly touched, or rather passed over, with two curious disquisitions on divination and fascination, he advances in four ensuing books to the intellectual and moral faculties, and those sciences which immediately depend upon them. Logic and Ethics are the grand divisions, co-relative to the reason and the will of man. |Logic.| Logic, according to Lord Bacon, comprizes the sciences of inventing, judging, retaining, and delivering the conceptions of the mind. We invent, that is, discover new arts or new arguments; we judge by induction or by syllogism; the memory is capable of being aided by artificial methods. All these processes of the mind are the subjects of several sciences, which it was the peculiar aim of Bacon, by his own logic, to place on solid foundations.

Extent given it by Bacon. 54. It is here to be remarked, that the sciences of logic and ethics, according to the partitions of Lord Bacon, are far more extensive than we are accustomed to consider them. Whatever concerned the human intellect came under the first; whatever related to the will and affections of the mind fell under the head of ethics. Logica de intellectu et ratione, ethica de voluntate appetitu et affectibus disserit; altera decreta, [Pg 477] altera actiones progignit. But it has been usual to confine logic to the methods of guiding the understanding in the search for truth; and some, though, as it seems to me, in a manner not warranted by the best usage of philosophers,[201] have endeavoured to exclude everything but the syllogistic mode of reasoning from the logical province. Whether again the nature and operations of the human mind, in general, ought to be reckoned a part of physics, has already been mentioned as a disputable question.

[201] In altera philosophiæ parte, quæ est quærendi ac disserendi, quæ λογικη dicitur. Cic. de Fin. i. 14.

Grammar and Rhetoric. 55. The science of delivering our own thoughts to others, branching into grammar and rhetoric, and including poetry, so far as its proper vehicles, metre and diction, are concerned, occupies the sixth book. In all this he finds more desiderata than from the great attention paid to these subjects by the ancients could have been expected. Thus, his ingenious collection of antitheta, or common places in rhetoric, though mentioned by Cicero as to the judicial species of eloquence, is first extended by Bacon himself to the deliberative or political orations. I do not, however, think it probable that this branch of topics could have been neglected by antiquity, though the writings relating to it may not have descended to us; nor can we by any means say there is nothing of the kind in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Whether the utility of these common places, when collected in books, be very great, is another question. And a similar doubt might be suggested with respect to the elenchs, or refutations, of rhetorical sophisms, “colores boni et mali,” which he reports as equally deficient, though a commencement had been made by Aristotle.

Ethics. 56. In the seventh book we come to ethical science. This he deems to have been insufficiently treated. He would have the different tempers and characters of mankind first considered, then their passions and affections (neither of which, as he justly observes, finds a place in the Ethics of Aristotle, though they are sometimes treated, not so appositely, in his Rhetoric); lastly, the methods of altering and affecting the will and appetite, such as custom, education, imitation, or society. “The main and primitive division of moral knowledge seemeth to be into the exemplar or platform of good, and the regiment or culture of the mind; the one describing the nature of good, the other presenting rules how to subdue, apply and accommodate the will of man thereunto.” This latter he also calls “the Georgics of the mind.” He seems to place “the platform or essence of good” in seeking the good of the whole, rather than that of the individual, applying this to refute the ancient theories as to the summum bonum. But perhaps Bacon had not thoroughly disentangled this question, and confounds, as is not unusual, the summum bonum, or personal felicity, with the object of moral action, or commune bonum. He is right, however, in preferring, morally speaking, the active to the contemplative life against Aristotle and other philosophers. This part is translated in De Augmentis, with little variation, from the Advancement of Learning; as is also what follows on the Georgics, or culture, of the mind. The philosophy of civil life, as it relates both to the conduct of men in their mutual intercourse, which is properly termed prudence, and to that higher prudence, which is concerned with the administration of communities, fills up the chart of the Baconian ethics. In the eighth book, admirable reflections on the former of these subjects occur at almost every sentence. Many, perhaps most of these, will be found in the Advancement of Learning. But in this, he had been, for a reason sufficiently obvious and almost avowed, cautiously silent upon the art of government—the craft of his king. |Politics.| The motives for silence were still so powerful, that he treats only in the De Augmentis, of two heads in political science; the methods of enlarging the boundaries of the state, which James I. could hardly resent as an interference with his own monopoly, and one of far more importance to the well-being of mankind, the principles of universal jurisprudence, or rather of universal legislation, according to which standard all laws ought to be framed. These he has sketched in ninety-seven aphorisms, or short rules, which, from the great experience of Bacon in the laws, as his peculiar vocation towards that part of philosophy, deserve to be studied at this day. Upon such topics, the progressive and innovating spirit of his genius was less likely to be perceived; but he is, perhaps, equally free from what he has happily called in one of his essays, the “froward retention of custom,” the prejudice of mankind, like that of perverse children, against what is advised to them for their [Pg 478] real good, and what they cannot deny to be conducive to it. This whole eighth book is pregnant with profound and original thinking. |Theology.| The ninth and last, which is short, glances only at some desiderata in theological science, and is chiefly remarkable as it displays a more liberal and catholic spirit than was often to be met with in a period signalized by bigotry and ecclesiastical pride. But as the abjuration of human authority is the first principle of Lord Bacon’s philosophy, and the preparation for his logic, it was not expedient to say too much of its usefulness in the theological pursuits.

Desiderata enumerated by him. 57. At the conclusion of the whole, we may find a summary catalogue of the deficiencies which, in the course of this ample review, Lord Bacon had found worthy of being supplied by patient and philosophical inquiry. Of these desiderata, few, I fear, have since been filled up, at least in a collective and systematic manner, according to his suggestions. Great materials, useful intimations, and even partial delineations, are certainly to be found, as so many of the rest, in the writings of those who have done honour to the last two centuries. But with all our pride in modern science, very much even of what, in Bacon’s time, was perceived to be wanting, remains for the diligence and sagacity of those who are yet to come.

Novum Organum: first book. 58. The first book of the Novum Organum, if it is not better known than any other part of Bacon’s philosophical writings, has at least furnished more of those striking passages which shine in quotation. It is written in detached aphorisms; the sentences, even where these aphorisms are longest, not flowing much into one another, so as to create a suspicion, that he had formed adversaria, to which he committed his thoughts as they arose. It is full of repetitions; and indeed this is so usual with Lord Bacon, that whenever we find an acute reflection or brilliant analogy, it is more than an even chance that it will recur in some other place. I have already observed that he has hinted the Novum Organum to be a digested summary of his method, but not the entire system as he designed to develop it, even in that small portion which he has handled at all.

Fallacies. Idola. 59. Of the splendid passages in the Novum Organum none are perhaps so remarkable as his celebrated division of fallacies, not such as the dialecticians had been accustomed to refute, depending upon equivocal words, or faulty disposition of premises, but lying far deeper in the natural or incidental prejudices of the mind itself. These are four in number: idola tribûs, to which from certain common weaknesses of human nature we are universally liable; idola specûs, which from peculiar dispositions and circumstances of individuals mislead them in different manners; idola fori, arising from the current usage of words which represent things much otherwise than as they really are; and idola theatri, which false systems of philosophy and erroneous methods of reasoning have introduced. Hence, as the refracted ray gives us a false notion as to the place of the object whose image it transmits, so our own minds are a refracting medium to the objects of their own contemplation, and require all the aid of a well-directed philosophy either to rectify the perception, or to make allowances for its errors.

Confounded with idols. 60. These idola, ειδωλα, images, illusions, fallacies, or, as Lord Bacon calls them in the Advancement of Learning, false appearances, have been often named in English idols of the tribe, of the den, of the market place. But it seems better, unless we retain the Latin name, to employ one of the synonymous terms given above. For the use of idol in this sense is unwarranted by the practice of the language, nor is it found in Bacon himself; but it has misled a host of writers, whoever might be the first that applied it, even among such as are conversant with the Novum Organum. “Bacon proceeds,” says Playfair, “to enumerate the causes of error, the idols as he calls them, or false divinities to which the mind had so long been accustomed to bow.” And with a similar misapprehension of the meaning of the word, in speaking of the idola specûs, he says: “besides the causes of error which are common to all mankind, each individual, according to Bacon, has his own dark cavern or den, into which the light is imperfectly admitted, and obscurity of which a tutelary idol lurks, at whose shrine the truth is often sacrificed.”[202] Thus also Dr. Thomas Brown; “in the inmost sanctuaries of the mind were all the idols which he overthrew;” and a later author on the Novum Organum fancies that Bacon “strikingly, though in his usual quaint style, calls the prejudices that check the progress of the mind by the name of idols, because mankind are apt to pay homage to [Pg 479] these instead of regarding truth.”[203] Thus too in the translation of the Novum Organum, published in Mr. Basil Montagu’s edition, we find idola rendered by idols, without explanation. We may in fact say that this meaning has been almost universally given by the later writers. By whom it was introduced, I am not able to say. Cudworth, in a passage where he glances at Bacon, has said, “it is no idol of the den, to use that affected language.” But, in the pedantic style of the seventeenth century, it is not impossible that idol may here have been put as a mere translation of the Greek ειδωλον, and in the same general sense of an idea or intellectual image.[204] Although the popular sense would not be inapposite to the general purpose of Bacon in this first part of the Novum Organum, it cannot be reckoned so exact and philosophical an illustration of the sources of human error as the unfaithful image, the shadow of reality, seen through a refracting surface, or reflected from an unequal mirror, as in the Platonic hypothesis of the cave, wherein we are placed with our backs to the light, to which he seems to allude in his idola specûs.[205] And as this is also plainly the true meaning, as a comparison with the parallel passages in the Advancement of Learning demonstrates, there can be no pretence for continuing to employ a word which has served to mislead such men as Brown and Playfair.

[202] Preliminary Dissertation to Encyclopædia.

[203] Introduction to the Novum Organum, published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Even Stewart seems to have fallen into the same error. “While these idols of the den maintain their authority, the cultivation of the philosophical spirit is impossible; or rather it is in a renunciation of his idolatry that the philosophical spirit essentially consists.” Dissertation, &c.—The observation is equally true, whatever sense we may give to idol.

[204] In Todd’s edition of Johnson’s Dictionary this sense is not mentioned. But in that of the Encyclopædia Metropolitana we have these words: “An idol or image is also opposed to a reality: thus Lord Bacon (see the quotation from him) speaks of idols or false appearances.” The quotation is from the translation of one of his short tracts, which is not made by himself. It is however a proof that the word idol was once at least used in this sense.

[205] Quisque ex phantasiæ suæ cellulis, tanquam ex specu Platonis, philosophatur; Historia Naturalis, in præfatione Coleridge has some fine lines in allusion to this hypothesis in that magnificent effusion of his genius, the introduction to the second book of Joan of Arc, but withdrawn, after the first edition, from that poem; where he describes us as “Placed with our backs to bright reality.” I am not however certain that Bacon meant this. See De Augmentis, lib. v. c. 4.

Second book of Novum Organum. 61. In the second book of the Novum Organum, we come at length to the new logic, the interpretation of nature, as he calls it, or the rules for conducting inquiries in natural philosophy according to his inductive method. It is, as we have said, a fragment of his entire system, and is chiefly confined to the “prerogative instances,”[206] or phænomena which are to be selected, for various reasons, as most likely to aid our investigations of nature. Fifteen of these are used to guide the intellect, five to assist the senses, seven to correct the practice. This second book is written with more than usual want of perspicuity, and though it is intrinsically the Baconian philosophy in a pre-eminent sense, I much doubt whether it is very extensively read, though far more so than it was fifty years since. Playfair, however, has given an excellent abstract of it in his Preliminary Dissertation to the Encyclopædia Britannica, with abundant and judicious illustrations from modern science. Sir John Herschel, in his admirable Discourse on Natural Philosophy, has added a greater number from still more recent discoveries, and has also furnished such a luminous development of the difficulties of the Novum Organum, as had been vainly hoped in former times. The commentator of Bacon should be himself of an original genius in philosophy. These novel illustrations are the more useful, because Bacon himself, from defective knowledge of natural phænomena, and from what, though contrary to his precepts, his ardent fancy could not avoid, a premature hastening to explain the essences of things instead of their proximate causes, has frequently given erroneous examples. It is to be observed on the other hand, that he often anticipates with marvellous sagacity the discoveries of posterity, and that his patient and acute analysis of the phænomena of heat has been deemed a model of his own inductive reasoning. “No one,” observes Playfair, “has done so much in such circumstances.” He was even ignorant of some things that he might have known; he wanted every branch of mathematics; [Pg 480] and placed in this remote corner of Europe, without many kindred minds to animate his zeal for physical science, seems hardly to have believed the discoveries of Galileo.

[206] The allusion in “prærogativæ instantiarum” is not to the English word prerogative, as Sir John Herschel seems to suppose (Discourse on Natural Philosophy, p. 182), but to the prærogativa centuria in the Roman comitia, which being first called, though by lot, was generally found, by some prejudice or superstition, to influence the rest, which seldom voted otherwise. It is rather a forced analogy, which is not uncommon with Bacon.

Confidence of Bacon. 62. It has happened to Lord Bacon, as it has to many other writers, that he has been extolled for qualities by no means characteristic of his mind. The first aphorism of the Novum Organum, so frequently quoted, “Man, the servant and interpreter of nature, performs and understands so much as he has collected concerning the order of nature by observation or reason, nor do his power or his knowledge extend farther,” has seemed to bespeak an extreme sobriety of imagination, a willingness to acquiesce in registering the phænomena of nature without seeking a revelation of her secrets. And nothing is more true than that such was the cautious and patient course of inquiry prescribed by him to all the genuine disciples of his inductive method. But he was far from being one of those humble philosophers who would limit human science to the enumeration of particular facts. He had, on the contrary, vast hopes of the human intellect under the guidance of his new logic. The Latens Schematismus, or intrinsic configuration of bodies, the Latens processus ad formam, or transitional operation through which they pass from one form, or condition of nature, to another, would one day, as he hoped, be brought to light; and this not, of course, by simple observation of the senses, nor even by assistance of instruments, concerning the utility of which he was rather sceptical, but by a rigorous application of exclusive and affirmative propositions to the actual phænomena by the inductive method. “It appears,” says Playfair, “that Bacon placed the ultimate object of philosophy too high, and too much out of the reach of man, even when his exertions are most skilfully conducted. He seems to have thought, that by giving a proper direction to our researches, and carrying them on according to the inductive method, we should arrive at the knowledge of the essences of the powers and qualities residing in bodies; that we should, for instance, become acquainted with the essence of heat, of cold, of colour, of transparency. The fact however is that, in as far as science has yet advanced, no one essence has been discovered, either as to matter in general, or as to any of its more extensive modifications. We are yet in doubt whether heat is a peculiar motion of the minute parts of bodies, as Bacon himself conceived it to be, or something emitted or radiated from their surfaces, or, lastly, the vibrations of an elastic medium by which they are penetrated and surrounded.”

Almost justified of late. 63. It requires a very extensive survey of the actual dominion of science, and a great sagacity to judge, even in the loosest manner, what is beyond the possible limits of human knowledge. Certainly, since the time when this passage was written by Playfair, more steps have been made towards realising the sanguine anticipations of Bacon than in the two centuries that had elapsed since the publication of the Novum Organum. We do not yet know the real nature of heat, but few would pronounce it impossible or even unlikely that we may know it, in the same sense that we know other physical realities not immediately perceptible, before many years shall have expired. The atomic theory of Dalton, the laws of crystalline substances discovered by Häuy, the development of others still subtler by Mitscherlich, instead of exhibiting, as the older philosophy had done, the idola rerum, the sensible appearances of concrete substance, radiations from the internal glory, admit us, as it were, to stand within the vestibule of nature’s temple, and to gaze on the very curtain of the shrine. If indeed we could know the internal structure of one primary atom, and could tell, not of course by immediate testimony of sense, but by legitimate inference from it, through what constant laws its component molecules, the atoms of atoms, attract, retain, and repel each other, we should have before our mental vision not only the Latens Schematismus, the real configuration of substances, but their form, or efficient nature, and could give as perfect a definition of any one of them, of gold for example, as we can of a cone or parallelogram. The recent discoveries of animal and vegetable development, and especially the happy application of the microscope to observing chemical and organic changes in their actual course, are equally remarkable advances towards a knowledge of the Latens processus ad formam, the corpuscular motions by which all change must be accomplished, and are in fact a great deal more than Bacon himself would have deemed possible.[207]

[207] By the Latens processus, he meant only what is the natural operation by which one form or condition of being is induced upon another. Thus, when the surface of iron becomes rusty, or when water is converted into steam some change has taken place, a latent progress from one form to another. This, in numberless cases, we can now answer, at least to a very great extent, by the science of chemistry.

[Pg 481]But should be kept within bounds. 64. These astonishing revelations of natural mysteries, fresh tidings of which crowd in upon us every day, may be likely to overwhelm all sober hesitation as to the capacities of the human mind, and to bring back that confidence which Bacon, in so much less favourable circumstances, has ventured to feel. There seem, however, to be good reasons for keeping within bounds this expectation of future improvement, which, as it has sometimes been announced in unqualified phrases, is hardly more philosophical than the vulgar supposition that the capacities of mankind are almost stationary. The phænomena of nature indeed, in all their possible combinations, are so infinite, in a popular sense of the word, that during no period, to which the human species can be conceived to reach, would they be entirely collected and registered. The case is still stronger as to the secret agencies and processes by means of which their phænomena are displayed. These have as yet, in no one instance, so far as I know, been fully ascertained. “Microscopes,” says Herschel, “have been constructed which magnify more than one thousand times in linear dimension, so that the smallest visible grain of sand may be enlarged to the appearance of one million times more bulky; yet the only impression we receive by viewing it through such a magnifier is that it reminds us of some vast fragment of a rock; while the intimate structure on which depends its colour, its hardness, and its chemical properties, remains still concealed; we do not seem to have made even an approach to a closer analysis of it by any such scrutiny.”[208]

[208] Discourse on Nat. Philos., p. 191.

Limits to our knowledge by sense. 65. The instance here chosen is not the most favourable for the experimental philosopher. He might perhaps hope to gain more knowledge by applying the best microscope to a regular crystal or to an organised substance. And it is impossible not to regret that the great discovery of the solar microscope has been either so imperfectly turned to account by philosophers, or has disappointed their hopes of exhibiting the mechanism of nature with the distinctness they require. But there is evidently a fundamental limitation of physical science, arising from those of the bodily senses and of muscular motions. The nicest instruments must be constructed and directed by the human hand; the range of the finest glasses must have a limit not only in their own natural structure but in that of the human eye. But no theory in science will be acknowledged to deserve any regard, except as it is drawn immediately, and by an exclusive process, from the phænomena which our senses report to us. Thus, the regular observation of definite proportions in chemical combination has suggested the atomic theory; and even this has been sceptically accepted by our cautious school of philosophy. If we are ever to go farther into the molecular analysis of substances, it must be through the means and upon the authority of new discoveries exhibited to our senses in experiment. But the existing powers of exhibiting or compelling nature by instruments, vast as they appear to us, and wonderful as has been their efficacy in many respects, have done little for many years past in diminishing the number of substances reputed to be simple; and with strong reasons to suspect that some of these, at least, yield to the crucible of nature, our electric batteries have up to this hour played innocuously round their heads.

66. Bacon has thrown out, once or twice, a hint at a single principle, a summary law of nature, as if all subordinate causes resolved themselves into one great process, according to which God works his will in the universe: Opus quod operatur Deus a principio usque ad finem. The natural tendency towards simplification, and what we consider as harmony, in our philosophical systems, which Lord Bacon himself reckons among the idola tribûs, the fallacies incident to the species, has led some to favour this unity of physical law. Impact and gravity have each had their supporters. But we are as yet at a great distance from establishing such a generalization, nor does it appear by any means probable that it will ever assume any simple form.

Inductive logic; whether confined to physics. 67. The close connexion of the inductive process recommended by Bacon with natural philosophy in the common sense of that word, and the general selection of his examples for illustration from that science, have given rise to a question, whether he comprehended metaphysical and moral philosophy within the scope of his inquiry.[209] That they formed a part of [Pg 482] the Instauration of Sciences, and therefore of the Baconian philosophy in the fullest sense of the word, is obvious from the fact that a large proportion of the treatise De Augmentis Scientiarum is dedicated to those subjects; and it is not less so that the idola of the Novum Organum are at least as apt to deceive us in moral as in physical argument. The question, therefore, can only be raised as to the peculiar method of conducting investigations, which is considered as his own. This would, however, appear to have been decided by himself in very positive language. “It may be doubted, rather than objected, by some, whether we look to the perfection, by means of our method, of natural philosophy alone, or of the other sciences also, of logic, of ethics, of politics. But we certainly mean what has here been said, to be understood as to them all; and as the ordinary logic, which proceeds by syllogism, does not relate to physical only, but to every other science; so ours, which proceeds by induction, comprizes them all. For we as much collect a history and form tables concerning anger, fear, shame and the like, and also concerning examples from civil life, and as much concerning the intellectual operations of memory, combination and partition, judgment and the others, as concerning heat and cold, or light, or vegetation, or such things.”[210] But he proceeds to intimate, as far as I understand the next sentence, that, although his method or logic, strictly speaking, is applicable to other subjects, it is his immediate object to inquire into the properties of natural things, or what is generally meant by physics. To this indeed the second book of the Novum Organum, and the portions that he completed of the remaining parts of the Instauratio Magna bear witness.

[209] This question was discussed some years since by the late editor of the Edinburgh Review on one side, and by Dugald Stewart on the other. See Edinburgh Review, vol. iii. p. 273, and the Preliminary Dissertation to Stewart’s Philosophical Essays.

[210] Etiam dubitabit quispiam potius quam objiciet, utrum nos de naturali tantum philosophia, an etiam de scientiis reliquis, logicis, ethicis, politicis, secundum viam nostram perficiendis loquamur. At nos certè de universis hæc, quæ dictasunt, intelligimus; atque quemadmodum vulgaris logica, quæ regit res per syllogismum, non tantum ad naturales, sed ad omnes scientias pertinet, ita et nostra, quæ procedit per inductionem, omnia complectitur. Tam enim Historiam et Tabulas Inveniendi conficimus de ira, metu et verecundia et similibus, ac etiam de exemplis rerum civilium; nec minùs de motibus mentalibus memoriæ, compositionis et divisionis, judicii et reliquorum, quam de calido et frigido, aut luce, aut vegetatione aut similibus. Sed tamen cum nostra ratio interpretandi, post historiam præparatam et ordinatam, non mentis tantum motus et discursus, ut logica vulgaris, sed et rerum naturam intueatur, ita mentem regimus ut ad rerum naturam se aptis per omnia modis applicare possit. Atque propterea multa et diversa in doctrina interpretationis præcipimus. quæ ad subjecti, de quo inquirimus, qualitatem et conditionem modum inveniendi nonnulla ex parte applicent. Nov. Org. i. 127.

Baconian philosophy built on observation and experiment. 68. It by no means follows, because the leading principles of the inductive philosophy are applicable to other topics of inquiry than what is usually comprehended under the name of physics, that we can employ all the prærogativæ instantiarum, and still less the peculiar rules for conducting experiments which Bacon has given us, in moral, or even psychological disquisitions. Many of them are plainly referrible to particular manipulations, or at most to limited subjects of chemical theory. And the frequent occurrence of passages which show Lord Bacon’s fondness for experimental processes, seem to have led some to consider his peculiar methods as more exclusively related to such modes of inquiry than they really are. But when the Baconian philosophy is said to be experimental, we are to remember that experiment is only better than what we may call passive observation, because it enlarges our capacity of observing with exactness and expedition. The reasoning is grounded on observation in both cases. In astronomy, where nature remarkably presents the objects of our observation without liability to error or uncertain delay, we may reason on the inductive principle as well as in sciences that require tentative operations. The inference drawn from the difference of time in the occultation of the satellites of Jupiter at different seasons, in favour of the Copernican theory and against the instantaneous motion of light, is an induction of the same kind with any that could be derived from an experimentum crucis. It is an exclusion of those hypotheses which might solve many phænomena, but fail to explain those immediately observed.

Advantages of the latter. 69. But astronomy, from the comparative solitariness, if we may so say, of all its phænomena, and the simplicity of their laws, has an advantage that is rarely found in sciences of mere observation. Bacon justly gave to experiment, or the interrogation of nature, compelling her to give up her secrets, a decided preference whenever it can be employed; and it is unquestionably true that the inductive method is tedious, [Pg 483] if not uncertain, when it cannot resort to so compendious a process. One of the subjects selected by Bacon in the third part of the Instauration as specimens of the method by which an inquiry into nature should be conducted, the History of Winds, does not greatly admit of experiments; and the very slow progress of meteorology, which has yet hardly deserved the name of a science, when compared with that of chemistry or optics, will illustrate the difficulties of employing the inductive method without their aid. It is not, therefore, that Lord Bacon’s method of philosophising is properly experimental, but that by experiment it is most successfully displayed.

Sometimes applicable to philosophy of human mind. 70. It will follow from hence that in proportion as, in any matter of inquiry, we can separate, in what we examine, the determining conditions, or law of form, from everything extraneous, we shall be more able to use the Baconian method with advantage. In metaphysics, or what Stewart would have called the philosophy of the human mind, there seems much in its own nature capable of being subjected to the inductive reasoning. Such are those facts which, by their intimate connection with physiology, or the laws of the bodily frame, fall properly within the province of the physician. In these, though exact observation is chiefly required, it is often practicable to shorten its process by experiment. And another important illustration may be given from the education of children, considered as a science of rules deduced from observation; wherein also we are frequently more able to substitute experiment for mere experience, than with mankind in general, whom we may observe at a distance, but cannot control. |Less so to politics and morals.| In politics, as well as in moral prudence, we can seldom do more than this. It seems however practicable to apply the close attention enforced by Bacon, and the careful arrangement and comparison of phænomena, which are the basis of his induction, to these subjects. Thus, if the circumstances of all popular seditions recorded in history were to be carefully collected with great regard to the probability of evidence, and to any peculiarity that may have affected the results, it might be easy to perceive such a connection of antecedent and subsequent events in the great plurality of instances, as would reasonably lead us to form probable inferences as to similar tumults when they should occur. This has sometimes been done, with less universality, and with much less accuracy than the Baconian method requires, by such theoretical writers on politics as Machiavel and Bodin. But it has been apt to degenerate into pedantry, and to disappoint the practical statesman, who commonly rejects it with scorn; partly because civil history is itself defective, seldom giving a just view of events, and still less frequently of the motives of those concerned in them; partly because the history of mankind is far less copious than that of nature, and in much that relates to politics, has not yet had time to furnish the groundwork of a sufficient induction; but partly also from some distinctive circumstances, which affect our reasonings in moral far more than in physical science, and which deserve to be considered, so far at least as to sketch the arguments that might be employed.

Induction less conclusive in these subjects. 71. The Baconian logic, as has been already said, deduces universal principles from select observation, that is, from particular, and, in some cases of experiment, from singular instances. It may easily appear to one conversant with the syllogistic method less legitimate than the old induction which proceeded by an exhaustive enumeration of particulars, and at most warranting but a probable conclusion. The answer to this objection can only be found in the acknowledged uniformity of the laws of nature, so that whatever has once occurred will, under absolutely similar circumstances, always occur again. This may be called the suppressed premise of every Baconian enthymem, every inference from observation of phænomena, which extends beyond the particular case. When it is once ascertained that water is composed of one proportion of oxygen to one of hydrogen, we never doubt but that such are its invariable constituents. We may repeat the experiment to secure ourselves against the risk of error in the operation or of some unperceived condition that may have affected the result; but when a sufficient number of trials has secured us against this, an invariable law of nature is inferred from the particular instance; nobody conceives that one pint of pure water can be of a different composition from another. All men, even the most rude, reason upon this primary maxim; but they reason inconclusively from misapprehending the true relations of cause and effect in the phænomena to which they direct their attention. [Pg 484] It is by the sagacity and ingenuity with which Bacon has excluded the various sources of error, and disengaged the true cause, that this method is distinguished from that which the vulgar practise.

Reasons for this difference. 72. It is required, however, for the validity of this method, first that there should be a strict uniformity in the general laws of nature, from which we can infer that what has been will, in the same conditions, be again; and secondly, that we shall be able to perceive and estimate all the conditions with an entire and exclusive knowledge. The first is granted in all physical phænomena; but in those which we cannot submit to experiment, or investigate by some such method as Bacon has pointed out, we often find our philosophy at fault for want of the second. Such is at present the case with respect to many parts of chemistry; for example, that of organic substances, which we can analyse, but as yet can in very few instances recompose. We do not know, and, if we did know, could not perhaps command, the entire conditions of organic bodies (even structurally, not as living), the form, as Bacon calls it, of blood, or milk, or oak galls. But in attempting to subject the actions of men to this inductive philosophy, we are arrested by the want of both the necessary requisitions. Matter can only be diverted from its obedience to unvarying laws by the control of mind; but we have to inquire whether mind is equally the passive instrument of any law. We have to open the great problem of human liberty, and must deny even a disturbing force to the will before we can assume that all actions of mankind must, under given conditions, preserve the same necessary train of sequences as a molecule of matter. But if this be answered affirmatively, we are still almost as far removed from a conclusive result as before. We cannot without contradicting every day experience, maintain that all men are determined alike by the same exterior circumstances; we must have recourse to the differences of temperament, of physical constitution, of casual or habitual association. The former alone, however, are, at the best, subject to our observation, either at the time, or, as is most common, through testimony; of the latter, no being, which does not watch the movements of the soul itself, can reach more than a probable conjecture. Sylla resigned the dictatorship, therefore all men, in the circumstances of Sylla, will do the same, is an argument false in one sense of the word circumstances, and useless at least in any other. It is doubted by many, whether meteorology will ever be well understood, on account of the complexity of the forces concerned, and their remoteness from the apprehension of the senses. Do not the same difficulties apply to human affairs? And while we reflect on these difficulties, to which we must add those which spring from the scantiness of our means of observation, the defectiveness and falsehood of testimony, especially what is called historical, and a thousand other errors to which the various “idola of the world and the cave” expose us, we shall rather be astonished that so many probable rules of civil prudence have been treasured up and confirmed by experience than disposed to give them a higher place in philosophy than they can claim.

Considerations on the other side. 73. It might be alleged in reply to these considerations, that admitting the absence of a strictly scientific certainty in moral reasoning, we have yet, as seems acknowledged on the other side, a great body of probable inferences, in the extensive knowledge and sagacious application of which most of human wisdom consists. And all that is required of us in dealing either with moral evidence or with the conclusions we draw from it, is to estimate the probability of neither too high; an error from which the severe and patient discipline of the inductive philosophy is most likely to secure us. It would be added by some, that the theory of probabilities deduces a wonderful degree of certainty from things very uncertain, when a sufficient number of experiments can be made; and thus, that events depending upon the will of mankind, even under circumstances the most anomalous and apparently irreducible to principles, may be calculated with a precision inexplicable to any one who has paid little attention to the subject. This, perhaps, may appear rather a curious application of mathematical science, than one from which our moral reasonings are likely to derive much benefit, especially as the conditions under which a very high probability can mathematically be obtained, involve a greater number of trials than experience will generally furnish. It is, nevertheless, a field that deserves to be more fully explored: the success of those who have attempted to apply analytical processes to moral probabilities has not hitherto been very encouraging, inasmuch as they have often come to results falsified by experience; but a more scrupulous regard to all the conditions of each problem [Pg 485] may perhaps obviate many sources of error.[211]

[211] A calculation was published not long since, said to be on the authority of an eminent living philosopher, according to which, granting a moderate probability that each of twelve jurors would decide rightly, the chances in favour of the rectitude of their unanimous verdict were made something extravagantly high, I think about 8000 to 1. It is more easy to perceive the the fallacies of this pretended demonstration, than to explain how a man of great acuteness should have overlooked them. One among many is that it assumes the giving a verdict at all to be voluntary, whereas, in practice, the jury must decide one way or the other. We must deduct, therefore, a fraction expressing the probability that some of the twelve have wrongly conceded their opinions to the rest. One danger of this rather favourite application of mathematical principles to moral probabilities, as indeed it is of statistical tables (a remark of far wider extent), is that, by considering mankind merely as units, it practically habituates the mind to a moral and social levelling, as inconsistent with a just estimate of men as it is characteristic of the present age.

Result of the whole. 74. It seems upon the whole that we should neither conceive the inductive method to be useless in regard to any subject but physical science, nor deny the peculiar advantages it possesses in those inquiries rather than others. What must in all studies be important, is the habit of turning round the subject of our investigation in every light, the observation of everything that is peculiar, the exclusion of all that we find on reflection to be extraneous. In historical and antiquarian researches, in all critical examination which turns upon facts, in the scrutiny of judicial evidence, a great part of Lord Bacon’s method, not, of course, all the experimental rules of the Novum Organum, has, as I conceive, a legitimate application.[212] I would refer any one who may doubt this to his History of Winds, as one sample of what we mean by the Baconian method, and ask whether a kind of [Pg 486] investigation, analogous to what is therein pursued for the sake of eliciting physical truths, might not be employed in any analytical process where general or even particular facts are sought to be known. Or if an example is required of such an investigation, let us look at the copious induction from the past and actual history of mankind upon which Malthus established his general theory of the causes which have retarded the natural progress of population. Upon all these subjects before-mentioned, there has been an astonishing improvement in the reasoning of the learned, and perhaps of the world at large since the time of Bacon, though much remains very defective. In what degree it may be owing to the prevalence of a physical philosophy founded upon his inductive logic, it might not be uninteresting to inquire.[213]

[212] The principle of Bacon’s prerogative instances, and perhaps in some cases a very analogous application of them, appear to hold in our inquiries into historical evidence. The fact sought to be ascertained in the one subject corresponds to the physical law in the other. The testimonies, as we, though rather laxly, call them, or passages in books from which we infer the fact, correspond to the observations or experiments from which we deduce the law. The necessity of a sufficient induction by searching for all proof that may bear on the question, is as manifest in one case as in the other. The exclusion of precarious and inconclusive evidence is alike indispensable in both. The selection of prerogative instances, or such as carry with them satisfactory conviction, requires the same sort of inventive and reasoning powers. It is easy to illustrate this by examples. Thus, in the controversy concerning the Icon Basilike, the admission of Gauden’s claim by Lord Clarendon is in the nature of a prerogative instance; it renders the supposition of the falsehood of that claim highly improbable. But the many second hand and hearsay testimonies which may be alleged on the other side, to prove that the book was written by King Charles, are not prerogative instances, because their falsehood will be found to involve very little improbability. So, in a different controversy, the silence of some of the fathers as to the text, commonly called, of the three heavenly witnesses, even while expounding the context of the passage, is a quasi-prerogative instance; a decisive proof that they did not know it, or did not believe it genuine; because if they did, no motive can be conceived for the omission. But the silence of Laurentius Valla as to its absence from the manuscripts on which he commented, is no prerogative instance to prove that it was contained in them; because it is easy to perceive that he might have motives for saying nothing; and, though the negative argument, as it is called, or inference that a fact is not true, because such and such persons have not mentioned it, is, taken generally, weaker than positive testimony, it will frequently supply prerogative instances where the latter does not. Launoy, in a little treatise, De Auctoritate Negantis Argumenti, which displays more plain sense than ingenuity or philosophy, lays it down that a fact of a public nature, which is not mentioned by any writer within 200 years of the time, supposing, of course, that there is extant a competent number of writers who would naturally have mentioned it, is not to be believed. The period seems rather arbitrary, and was possibly so considered by himself; but the general principle is of the highest importance in historical criticism. Thus, in the once celebrated question of Pope Joan, the silence of all writers near the time as to so wonderful a fact, was justly deemed a kind of prerogative argument, when set in opposition to the many repetitions of the story in later ages. But the silence of Gildas and Bede as to the victories of Arthur is no such argument against their reality, because they were not under an historical obligation, or any strong motive, which would prevent their silence. Generally speaking, the more anomalous and interesting an event is, the stronger is the argument against its truth from the silence of contemporaries, on account of the propensity of mankind to believe and recount the marvellous; and the weaker is the argument from the testimony of later times for the same reason. A similar analogy holds also in jurisprudence. The principle of our law, rejecting hearsay and secondary evidence, is founded on the Baconian rule. Fifty persons may depose that they have heard of a fact or of its circumstances; but the eye-witness is the prerogative instance. It would carry us too far to develop this at length, even if I were fully prepared to do so; but this much may lead us to think, that whoever shall fill up that lamentable desideratum, the logic of evidence, ought to have familiarised himself with the Novum Organum.

[213] “The effects which Bacon’s writings have hitherto produced, have indeed been far more conspicuous in physics than in the science of mind. Even here, however, they have been great and most important, as well as in some collateral branches of knowledge, such as natural jurisprudence, political economy, criticism and morals, which spring up from the same root, or rather which are branches of that tree of which the science of mind is the trunk.” Stewart’s Philosophical Essays, Prelim. Dissertation. The principal advantage, perhaps, of those habits of reasoning which the Baconian methods, whether learned directly or through the many disciples of that school, have a tendency to generate, is that they render men cautious and painstaking in the pursuit of truth, and therefore restrain them from deciding too soon. Nemo reperitur qui in rebus ipsis et experientia moram fecerit legitimam. These words are more frequently true of moral and political reasoners than of any others. Men apply historical or personal experience, but they apply it hastily, and without giving themselves time for either a copious or an exact induction; the great majority being too much influenced by passion, party-spirit, or vanity, or perhaps by affections morally right, but not the less dangerous in reasoning, to maintain the patient and dispassionate suspense of judgment (ακαταληψια), which ought to be the condition of our enquiries.

Bacon’s aptitude for moral subjects. 75. It is probable that Lord Bacon never much followed up in his own mind that application of his method to psychological, and still less to moral and political subjects, which he has declared himself to intend. The distribution of the Instauratio Magna, which he has prefixed to it, relates wholly to physical science. He has in no one instance given an example, in the Novum Organum, from moral philosophy, and one only, that of artificial memory, from what he would have called logic.[214] But we must constantly remember that the philosophy of Bacon was left exceedingly incomplete. Many lives would not have sufficed for what he had planned, and he gave only the horæ subsecivæ of his own. It is evident that he had turned his thoughts to physical philosophy rather for an exercise of his reasoning faculties, and out of his insatiable thirst for knowledge, than from any peculiar aptitude for their subjects, much less any advantage of opportunity for their cultivation. He was more eminently the philosopher of human, than of general nature. Hence, he is exact as well as profound in all his reflections on civil life and mankind, while his conjectures in natural philosophy, though often very acute, are apt to wander far from the truth in consequence of his defective acquaintance with the phænomena of nature. His Centuries of Natural History give abundant proof of this. He is, in all these inquiries, like one doubtfully, and by degrees, making out a distant prospect, but often deceived by the haze. But if we compare what may be found in the sixth, seventh, and eighth books De Augmentis, in the Essays, the History of Henry VII., and the various short treatises contained in his works, on moral and political wisdom, and on human nature, from experience of which all such wisdom is drawn, with the Rhetoric, Ethics, and Politics of Aristotle, or with the historians most celebrated for their deep insight into civil society and human character, with Thucydides, Tacitus, Philip de Comines, Machiavel, Davila, Hume, we shall, I think, find that one man may almost be compared with all of these together. When Galileo is named as equal to Bacon, it is to be remembered that Galileo was no moral or political philosopher, and in this department Leibnitz certainly falls very short of Bacon. Burke, perhaps, comes, of all modern writers, the nearest to him; but though Bacon may not be more profound than Burke, he is still more copious and comprehensive.

[214] Nov. Organ. ii. 26. It may however be observed, that we find a few passages in the ethical part of De Augmentis, lib. vii. cap. 3, which show that he had some notions of moral induction germinating in his mind.

Comparison of Bacon and Galileo. 76. The comparison of Bacon and Galileo is naturally built upon the influence which, in the same age they exerted in overthrowing the philosophy of the schools, and [Pg 487] in founding that new discipline of real science which has rendered the last centuries glorious. Hume has given the preference to the latter, who made accessions to the domain of human knowledge so splendid, so inaccessible to cavil, so unequivocal in their results, that the majority of mankind would perhaps be carried along with this decision. There seems however to be no doubt that the mind of Bacon was more comprehensive and profound. But these comparisons are apt to involve incommensurable relations. In their own intellectual characters, they bore no great resemblance to each other. Bacon had scarce any knowledge of geometry, and so far ranks much below not only Galileo, but Descartes, Newton, and Leibnitz, all signalised by wonderful discoveries in the science of quantity, or in that part of physics which employs it. He has, in one of the profound aphorisms of the Novum Organum, distinguished the two species of philosophical genius, one more apt to perceive the differences of things, the other their analogies. In a mind of the highest order neither of these powers will be really deficient, and his own inductive method is at once the best exercise of both, and the best safeguard against the excess of either. But upon the whole, it may certainly be said, that the genius of Lord Bacon was naturally more inclined to collect the resemblances of nature than to note her differences. This is the case with men like him of sanguine temper, warm fancy, and brilliant wit; but it is not the frame of mind which is best suited to strict reasoning.

77. It is no proof of a solid acquaintance with Lord Bacon’s philosophy, to deify his name as the ancient schools did those of their founders, or even to exaggerate the powers of his genius. Powers they were surprisingly great, yet limited in their range, and not in all respects equal; nor could they overcome every impediment of circumstance. Even of Bacon it may be said, that he attempted more than he has achieved, and perhaps more than he clearly apprehended. His objects appear sometimes indistinct, and I am not sure that they are always consistent. In the Advancement of Learning, he aspired to fill up, or at least to indicate, the deficiencies in every department of knowledge, he gradually confined himself to philosophy, and at length to physics. But few of his works can be deemed complete, not even the treatise De Augmentis, which comes nearer to it than most of the rest. Hence, the study of Lord Bacon is difficult and not, as I conceive, very well adapted to those who have made no progress whatever in the exact sciences, nor accustomed themselves to independent thinking. They have never been made a textbook in our universities; though after a judicious course of preparatory studies, by which I mean a good foundation in geometry and the philosophical principles of grammar, the first book of the Novum Organum might be very advantageously combined with the instruction of an enlightened lecturer.[215]

[215] It by no means is to be inferred, that because the actual text of Bacon is not always such as can be well understood by very young men, I object to their being led to the real principles of inductive philosophy, which alone will teach them to think, firmly but not presumptuously, for themselves. Few defects, on the contrary, in our system of education are more visible than the want of an adequate course of logic; and this is not likely to be rectified so long as the Aristotelian methods challenge that denomination exclusively of all other aids to the reasoning faculties. The position that nothing else is to be called logic, were it even agreeable to the derivation of the word, which it is not, or to the usage of the ancients, which is by no means uniformly the case, or to that of modern philosophy and correct language, which is certainly not at all the case, is no answer to the question, whether what we call logic does not deserve to be taught at all.

A living writer of high reputation, who has at least fully understood his own subject, and illustrated it better than his predecessors from a more enlarged reading and thinking, wherein his own acuteness has been improved by the writers of the Baconian school, has been unfortunately instrumental, by the very merits of his treatise on Logic, in keeping up the prejudices on this subject, which have generally been deemed characteristic of the university to which he belonged. All the reflection I have been able to give to the subject has convinced me of the inefficacy of the syllogistic art in enabling us to think rightly for ourselves, or, which is part of thinking rightly, in detecting those fallacies of others which might impose on our understanding before we have acquired that art. It has been often alleged, and, as far as I can judge, with perfect truth, that no man, who can be worth answering, ever commits, except through mere inadvertence, any paralogisms which the common logic serves to point out. It is easy enough to construct syllogisms which sin against its rules; but the question is, by whom they were employed. It is not uncommon, as I am aware, to represent an adversary as reasoning illogically; but this is generally effected by putting his argument into our own words. The great fault of all, over-induction, or the assertion of a general premise upon an insufficient examination of particulars, cannot be discovered or cured by any logical skill; and this is the error into which men really fall, not that of omitting to distribute the middle term, though it comes in effect, and often in appearance, to the same thing. I do not contend that the rules of syllogism, which are very short and simple, ought not to be learned; or that there may not be some advantage in occasionally stating our own argument, or calling on another to state his, in a regular form (an advantage, however, rather dialectical, which is, in other words, rhetorical, than one which affects the reasoning faculties themselves): nor do I deny that it is philosophically worth while to know that all general reasoning by words may be reduced into syllogism, as it is to know that most of geometry may be resolved into the superposition of equal triangles; but to represent this portion of logical science as the whole, appears to me almost like teaching the scholar Euclid’s axioms, and the axiomatic theorem to which I have alluded, and calling this the science of geometry. The following passage from the Port-Royal logic is very judicious and candid, giving as much to the Aristotelian system as it deserves: “Cette partie, que nous avons maintenant à traiter, qui comprend les règles du raisonnement, est estimée la plus importante de la logique, et c’est presque l’unique qu’on y traite avec quelque soin; mais il y a sujet de douter si elle est aussi utile qu’on se l’imagine. La plupart des erreurs des hommes, comme nous avons déjà dit ailleurs, viennent bien plus de ce qu’ils raisonnent sur de faux principes, que non pas de ce qu’ils raisonnent mal suivant leurs principes. Il arrive rarement qu’on se laisse tromper par des raisonnemens qui ne soient faux que parce que la conséquence en est mal tirée; et ceux qui ne seroient pas capables d’en reconnoître la fausseté par la seule lumière de la raison, ne le seroient pas ordinairement d’entendre les règles que l’on en donne, et encore moins de les appliquer. Néanmoins, quand on ne considéreroit ces règles que comme des vérités spéculatives, elles serviroient toujours à exercer l’esprit; et de plus, on ne peut nier qu’elles n’aient quelque usage en quelques rencontres, et à l’égard de quelques personnes, qui, étant d’un naturel vif et pénétrant, ne se laissent quelquefois tromper par des fausses conséquences, que faute d’attention, à quoi la réflexion qu’ils feroient sur ces règles, seroit capable de remédier.” Art de Penser, part iii. How different is this sensible passage from one quoted from some anonymous writer in Whateley’s Logic, p. 34. “A fallacy consists of an ingenious mixture of truth and falsehood so entangled, so intimately blended, that the fallacy is, in the chemical phrase, held in solution one drop of sound logic is that test which immediately disunites them, makes the foreign substance visible, and precipitates it to the bottom.” One fallacy, it might be answered, as common as any, is the false analogy the misleading the mind by a comparison, where there is no real proportion or resemblance. The chemist’s test is the necessary means of detecting the foreign substance; if the “drop of sound logic” be such, it is strange that lawyers, mathematicians, and mankind in general, should so sparingly employ it; the fact being notorious, that those most eminent for strong reasoning powers are rarely conversant with the syllogistic method. It is also well known, that these “intimately blended mixtures of truth and falsehood” deceive no man of plain sense. So much for the test.

[Pg 488]His prejudice against mathematics. 78. The ignorance of Bacon in mathematics, and, what was much worse, his inadequate notions of their utility, must be reckoned among the chief defects in his philosophical writings. In a remarkable passage of the Advancement of Learning, he held mathematics to be a part of metaphysics; but the place of this is altered in the Latin, and they are treated as merely auxiliary or instrumental to physical inquiry. He had some prejudice against pure mathematics, and thought they had been unduly elevated in comparison with the realities of nature. “I know not,” he says, “how it has arisen that mathematics and logic, which ought to be the serving-maids of physical philosophy, yet affecting to vaunt the certainty that belongs to them, presume to exercise a dominion over her.” It is surely very erroneous to speak of geometry, which relates to the objective realities of space, and to natural objects so far as extended, as a mere handmaid of physical philosophy, and not rather a part of it. Playfair has made some good remarks on the advantages derived to experimental philosophy itself from the mere application of geometry and algebra. And one of the reflections which this ought to excite is, that we are not to conceive, as some hastily do, that there can be no real utility to mankind, even of that kind of utility which consists in multiplying the conveniences and luxuries of life, springing from theoretical and speculative inquiry. The history of algebra, so barren in the days of Tartaglia and Vieta, so productive of wealth, when applied to dynamical calculations in our own, may be a sufficient answer.

Bacon’s excess of wit. 79. One of the petty blemishes which, though lost in the splendour of Lord Bacon’s excellencies, it is not unfair to mention, is connected with the peculiar characteristics of his mind; he is sometimes too metaphorical and witty. His remarkable talent for discovering analogies seems to have inspired him with too much regard to them as arguments, even when they must appear to [Pg 489] any common reader fanciful and far-fetched. His terminology, chiefly for the same reason, is often a little affected, and, in Latin, rather barbarous. The divisions of his prerogative instances in the Novum Organum are not always founded upon intelligible distinctions. And the general obscurity of the style, neither himself nor his assistants being good masters of the Latin language, which at the best is never flexible or copious enough for our philosophy, renders the perusal of both his great works too laborious for the impatient reader. Brucker has well observed that the Novum Organum has been neglected by the generality, and proved of far less service than it would otherwise have been in philosophy, in consequence of these very defects, as well as the real depths of the author’s mind.[216]

[216] Legenda ipsa nobilissima tractatio ab illis est, qui in rerum naturalium inquisitione feliciter progredi cupiunt. Quæ si paulo plus luminis et perspicuitatis haberet, et novorum terminorum et partitionum artificio lectorem non remoraretur, longè plura, quam factum est, contulisset ad philosophiæ emendationem. His enim obstantibus a plerisque hoc organum neglectum est. Hist. Philos. v. 99.

Fame of Bacon on the Continent. 80. What has been the fame of Bacon, “the wisest, greatest, of mankind,” it is needless to say. What has been his real influence over mankind, how much of our enlarged and exact knowledge may be attributed to his inductive method, what of this again has been due to a thorough study of his writings, and what to an indirect and secondary acquaintance with them, are questions of another kind, and less easily solved. Stewart, the philosopher who has dwelt most on the praises of Bacon, while he conceives him to have exercised a considerable influence over the English men of science in the seventeenth century, supposes, on the authority of Montucla, that he did not “command the general admiration of Europe,” till the publication of the preliminary discourse to the French Encyclopædia by Diderot and D’Alembert. This, however, is by much too precipitate a conclusion. He became almost immediately known on the continent. Gassendi was one of his most ardent admirers. Descartes mentions him, I believe, once only, in a letter to Mersenne, in 1632;[217] but he was of all men the most unwilling to praise a contemporary. It may be said that these were philosophers, and that their testimony does not imply the admiration of mankind. But writers of a very different character mention him in a familiar manner. Richelieu is said to have highly esteemed Lord Bacon.[218] And it may in some measure be due to this, that in the Sentimens de l’Académie Français sur le Cid, he is alluded to, simply by the name Bacon, as one well known.[219] Voiture, in a letter to Costar, about the same time, bestows high eulogy on some passages of Bacon which his correspondent had sent to him, and observes that Horace would have been astonished to hear a barbarian Briton discourse in such a style. The treatise De Augmentis was republished in France in 1624, the year after its appearance in England. It was translated into French as early as 1632; no great proofs of neglect. Editions came out in Holland, 1645, 1652, and 1662.[220] Even the Novum Organum, which, as has been said, never became so popular as his other writings, was thrice printed in Holland, in 1645, 1650, and 1660.[221] Leibnitz and Puffendorf are loud in their expressions of admiration, the former ascribing to him the revival of true philosophy as fully as we can at present.[222] I should be more inclined to doubt whether he were adequately valued by his countrymen in his own time, or in the immediately subsequent period. Under the first Stuarts, there was little taste among studious men [Pg 490] but for theology, and chiefly for a theology which, proceeding with an extreme deference to authority, could not but generate a disposition of mind, even upon other subjects, alien to the progressive and inquisitive spirit of the inductive philosophy.[223] The institution of the Royal Society, or rather the love of physical science out of which that institution arose, in the second part of the seventeenth century, made England resound with the name of her illustrious chancellor. Few now spoke of him without a kind of homage that only the greatest men receive. Yet still, it was by natural philosophers alone that the writings of Bacon were much studied. The editions of his works, except the Essays, were few; the Novum Organum never came separately from the English press.[224] They were not even much quoted; for I believe it will be found that the fashion of referring to the brilliant passages of the De Augmentis and the Novum Organum, at least in books designed for the general reader, is not much older than the close of the last century. Scotland has the merit of having led the way; Reid, Stewart, Robison, and Playfair turned that which had been a blind veneration into a rational worship; and I should suspect that more have read Lord Bacon within these thirty years than in the two preceding centuries. It may be an usual consequence of the enthusiastic panegyrics lately poured upon his name, that a more positive efficacy has sometimes been attributed to his philosophical writings than they really possessed, and it might be asked whether Italy, where he was probably not much known, were not the true school of experimental philosophy in Europe, whether his methods of investigation were not chiefly such as men of sagacity and lovers of truth might simultaneously have devised. But, whatever may have been the case with respect to actual discoveries in science, we must give to written wisdom its proper meed; no books prior to those of Lord Bacon carried mankind so far on the road to truth; none have obtained so thorough a triumph over arrogant usurpation without seeking to substitute another; and he may be compared with those liberators of nations, who have given them laws by which they might govern themselves, and retained no homage but their gratitude.[225]

[217] Vol. vi., p. 210, edit. Cousin.

[218] The only authority that I can now quote for this is not very good, that of Aubery’s Manuscripts, which I find in Seward’s Anecdotes, iv. 328. But it seems not improbable. The same book quotes Balzac as saying: “Croyons donc, pour l’amour du Chancelier Bacon, que toutes les folies des anciens sont sages; et tous leurs songes mystères, et de celles-là qui sont estimées pures fables, il n’y en a pas une, quelque bizarre et extravagante qu’elle soit, qui n’ait son fondement dans l’histoire, si l’on en veut croire Bacon, et qui n’ait été déguisée de la sorte par les sages du vieux temps, pour la rendre plus utile aux peuples.

[219] P. 44 (1633).

[220] J’ai trouvé parfaitement beau tout ce que vous me mandez de Bacon. Mais ne vous semble t’il pas qu’Horace qui disoit, Visam Britannos hospitibus feros, seroit bien étonné d’entendre un barbare discourir comme cela? Costar is said by Bayle to have borrowed much from Bacon. La Mothe le Vayer mentions him in his Dialogues; in fact, instances are numerous.

[221] Montagu’s Life of Bacon, p. 407. He has not mentioned an edition at Strasburg, 1635, which is in the British Museum.

There is also an edition, without time or place, in the catalogue of the British Museum.

[222] Brucker, v. 95. Stewart says that “Bayle does not give above twelve lines to Bacon;” but he calls him one of the greatest men of his age, and the length of an article in Bayle was never designed to be a measure of the merit of its subject.

[223] It is not uncommon to meet with persons, especially who are or have been engaged in teaching others dogmatically what they have themselves received in the like manner, to whom the inductive philosophy appears a mere school of scepticism, or at best wholly inapplicable to any subjects which require entire conviction. A certain deduction from certain premises is the only reasoning they acknowledge. This is peculiarly the case with theologians, but it is also extended to everything which is taught in a synthetic manner. Lord Bacon has a remarkable passage on this in the 9th book De Augmentis. Postquam articuli et principia religionis jam in sedibus suis fuerint locata, ita ut a rationis examine penitus eximantur, tum demum conceditur ab illis illationes derivare ac deducere, secundum analogiam ipsorum. In rebus quidem naturalibus hoc non tenet. Nam et ipsa principia examini subjiciuntur; per inductionem, inquam, licet minime per syllogismum. Atque eadem illa nullam habent cum ratione repugnantiam, ut ab eodem fonte cum primæ propositiones, tum mediæ, deducantur. Aliter fit in religione; ubi et primæ propositiones authopystatæ sunt, atque per se subsistentes; et rursus non reguntur ab illa ratione quæ propositiones consequentes deducit. Neque tamen hoc fit in religione sola, sed etiam in aliis scientiis, tam gravioribus, quam levioribus, ubi scilicet propositiones humanæ placita sunt, non posita; siquidem et in illis rationis usus absolutus esse non potest. Videmus enim in ludis, puta schaccorum, aut similibus, priores ludi normas et leges merè positivas esse, et ad placitum; quas recipi, non in disputationem vocari, prorsus oporteat; ut vero vincas, et peritè lusum instituas, id artificiosum est et rationale. Eodem modo fit et in legibus humanis; in quibus haud paucæ sunt maximæ, ut loquuntur, hoc est, placita mera juris, quæ auctoritate magis quam ratione nituntur, neque in disceptationem veniunt. Quid vero sit justissimum, non absolutè, sed relativè, hoc est ex analogiâ illarum maximarum, id demum rationale est, et latum disputationi campum præbet. This passage, well weighed, may show us where, why, and by whom the synthetic and syllogistic methods have been preferred to the inductive and analytical.

[224] The De Augmentis was only once published after the first edition, in 1638. An indifferent translation, by Gilbert Watts, came out in 1640. No edition of Bacon’s Works was published in England before 1730; another appeared in 1740, and there have been several since. But they had been printed at Frankfort in 1665. It is unnecessary to observe, that many copies of the foreign editions were brought to this country. This is mostly taken from Mr. Montague’s account.

[225] I have met, since this passage was written, with one in Stewart’s Life of Reid, which seems to state the effects of Bacon’s philosophy in a just and temperate spirit, and which I rather quote, because this writer has, by his eulogies on that philosophy, led some to an exaggerated notion. “The influence of Bacon’s genius on the subsequent progress of physical discovery has been seldom duly appreciated: by some writers almost entirely overlooked, and by others considered as the sole cause of the reformation in science which has since taken place. Of these two extremes, the latter certainly is the least wide of the truth: for in the whole history of letters no other individual can be mentioned whose exertions have had so indisputable an effect in forwarding the intellectual progress of mankind. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that before the era when Bacon appeared, various philosophers in different parts of Europe had struck into the right path; and it may perhaps be doubted, whether any one important rule with respect to the true method of investigation be contained in his works, of which no hint can be traced in those of his predecessors. His great merit lay in concentrating their feeble and scattered lights; fixing the attention of philosophers on the distinguishing characteristics of true and of false science, by a felicity of illustration peculiar to himself, seconded by the commanding powers of a bold and figurative eloquence. The method of investigation which he recommended had been previously followed in every instance in which any solid discovery had been made with respect to the laws of nature; but it had been followed accidentally and without any regular preconceived design; and it was reserved for him to reduce to rule and method what others had effected, either fortuitously, or from some momentary glimpse of the truth. These remarks are not intended to detract from the just glory of Bacon; for they apply to all those, without exception, who have systematised the principles of any of the arts. Indeed, they apply less forcibly to him than to any other philosopher whose studies have been directed to objects analogous to his; inasmuch as we know of no art of which the rules have been reduced successfully into a didactic form, when the art itself was as much in infancy as experimental philosophy was when Bacon wrote.” Account of Life and writings of Reid sect. 2.

[Pg 491] Sect. III.

On the Metaphysical Philosophy of Descartes.

Early life of Descartes. 81. René Descartes was born in 1596 of an ancient family in Touraine. An inquisitive curiosity into the nature and causes of all he saw is said to have distinguished his childhood, and this was certainly accompanied by an uncommon facility and clearness of apprehension. At a very early age he entered the college of the Jesuits at La Fleche, and passed through their entire course of literature and philosophy. It was now, at the age of sixteen, as he tells us, that he began to reflect, with little satisfaction, on his studies, finding his mind beset with error, and obliged to confess that he had learned nothing but the conviction of his ignorance. Yet he knew that he had been educated in a famous school, and that he was not deemed behind his contemporaries. The ethics, the logic, even the geometry of the ancients, did not fill his mind with that clear stream of truth, for which he was ever thirsting. On leaving La Fleche, the young Descartes mingled for some years in the world, and served as a volunteer both under Prince Maurice, and in the Imperial army. Yet during this period there were intervals when he withdrew himself wholly from society, and devoted his leisure to mathematical science. Some germs also of his peculiar philosophy were already ripening in his mind.

His beginning to philosophise. 82. Descartes was twenty-three years old when, passing a solitary winter in his quarters at Neuburg on the Danube, he began to resolve in his mind the futility of all existing systems of philosophy, and the discrepancy of opinions among the generality of mankind, which rendered it probable that no one had yet found out the road to real science. He determined, therefore, to set about the investigation of truth for himself, erasing from his mind all preconceived judgments, as having been hastily and precariously taken up. He laid down for his guidance a few fundamental rules of logic, such as to admit nothing as true which he did not clearly perceive, and to proceed from the simpler notions to the more complex, taking the method of geometers, by which they had gone so much farther than others, for the true art of reasoning. Commencing, therefore, with the mathematical sciences, and observing that, however different in their subjects, they treat properly of nothing but the relations of quantity, he fell, almost accidentally, as his words seem to import, on the great discovery that geometrical curves may be expressed algebraically.[226] This gave him more hope of success in applying his method to other parts of philosophy.

[226] Œuvres de Descartes, par Cousin, Paris, 1824, vol. i., p. 143.

He retires to Holland. 83. Nine years more elapsed, during which Descartes, though he quitted military service, continued to observe mankind in various parts of Europe, still keeping his heart fixed on the great aim he had proposed to himself, but, as he confesses, without having framed the scheme of any philosophy beyond those of his contemporaries. He deemed his time of life immature for so stupendous a task. But at the age of thirty-three, with little notice to his friends, he quitted Paris, convinced that absolute retirement was indispensable for that rigorous investigation of first principles [Pg 492] he now determined to institute, and retired into Holland. In this country he remained eight years so completely aloof from the distractions of the world, that he concealed his very place of residence, though preserving an intercourse of letters with many friends in France.

His publications. 84. In 1637 he broke upon the world with a volume containing the Discourse upon Method, the Dioptrics, the Meteors, and the Geometry. It is only with the first that we are for the present concerned.[227] In this discourse, the most interesting perhaps of Descartes’ writings, on account of the picture of his life, and of the progress of his studies that it furnishes, we find the Cartesian metaphysics, which do not consist of many articles, almost as fully detailed as in any of his later works. In the Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, published in Latin, 1641, these fundamental principles are laid down again more at length. He invited the criticism of philosophers on these famous Meditations. They did not refuse the challenge; and seven sets of objections, from as many different quarters, with seven replies from Descartes himself, are subjoined to the later editions of the Meditations. The Principles of Philosophy, published in Latin in 1644, contains what may be reckoned the final statement, which occupies most of the first book, written with uncommon conciseness and precision. The beauty of philosophical style which distinguished Descartes is never more seen than in this first book of the Principia, the translation of which was revised by Clerselier, an eminent friend of the author. It is a contrast at once to the elliptical brevity of Aristotle, who hints, or has been supposed to hint, the most important positions in a short clause, and to the verbose, figurative declamation of many modern metaphysicians. In this admirable perspicuity Descartes was imitated by his disciples Arnaud and Malebranche, especially the former. His unfinished posthumous treatise, the “Inquiry after Truth by Natural Reason,” is not carried farther than a partial development of the same leading principles of Cartesianism. There is consequently a great deal of apparent repetition in the works of Descartes, but such as on attentive consideration will show, not perhaps much real variance, but some new lights that had occurred to the author in the course of his reflections.[228]

[227] Id. p. 121-212.

[228] A work has lately been published, Essais Philosophiques, suivis de la Métaphysique de Descartes resembleé et mise en ordre, par L. A. Gruyer, 4 vols. Bruxelles, 1832. In the fourth volume we find the metaphysical passages in the writings of Descartes, including his correspondence, arranged methodically in his own words, but with the omission of a large part of the objections to the Meditations and of his replies. I did not, however, see this work in time to make use of it.

He begins by doubting all. 85. In pursuing the examination of the first principles of knowledge, Descartes perceived not only that he had cause to doubt of the various opinions he had found current among men, from that very circumstance of their variety, but that the sources of all that he had received for truth themselves, namely, the senses, had afforded him no indisputable certainty. He began to recollect how often he had been misled by appearances, which had at first sight given no intimation of their fallacy, and asked himself in vain, by what infallible test he could discern the reality of external objects, or at least their conformity to his idea of them. The strong impressions made in sleep led him to inquire whether all he saw and felt might not be in a dream. It was true that there seemed to be some notions more elementary than the rest, such as extension, figure, duration, which could not be reckoned fallacious; nor could he avoid owning that, if there were not an existing triangle in the world, the angles of one conceived by the mind, though it were in sleep, must appear equal to two right angles. But even in this certitude of demonstration he soon found something deficient; to err in geometrical reasoning is not impossible: why might he not err in this; especially in a train of consequences, the particular terms of which are not at the same instant present to the mind. But above all, there might be a superior being, powerful enough and willing to deceive him. It was no kind of answer to treat this as improbable, or as an arbitrary hypothesis. He had laid down as a maxim that nothing could be received as truth which was not demonstrable, and in one place, rather hyperbolically, and indeed extravagantly in appearance, says that he made little difference between merely probable and false suppositions; meaning this, however, as we may presume, in the sense of geometers, who would say the same thing.

His first step in knowledge. 86. But, divesting himself thus of all belief in what the world deemed most unquestionable, plunged in an abyss, as it seemed for [Pg 493] a time, he soon found his feet on a rock, from which he sprang upwards to an unclouded sun. Doubting all things, abandoning all things, he came to the question, what is it that doubts and denies? Something it must be; he might be deceived by a superior power, but it was he that was deceived. He felt his own existence; the proof of it was that he did feel it; that he had affirmed, that he now doubted, in a word, that he was a thinking substance. Cogito: Ergo sum—this famous enthymem of the Cartesian philosophy veiled in rather formal language, that which was to him, and must be to us all, the eternal basis of conviction, which no argument can strengthen, which no sophistry can impair, the consciousness of a self within, a percipient indivisible Ego.[229] The only proof of this is that it admits of no proof, that no man can pretend to doubt of his own existence with sincerity, or to express a doubt without absurd and inconsistent language.

[229] This word, introduced by the Germans, or originally perhaps by the old Cartesians, is rather awkward, but far less so than the English pronoun I, which is also equivocal in sound. Stewart has adopted it as the lesser evil, and it seems reasonable not to scruple a word so convenient, if not necessary, to express the unity of the conscious principle. If it had been employed earlier, I am apt to think that some great metaphysical extravagances would have been avoided, and some fundamental truths more clearly apprehended. Fichte is well known to have made the grand division of Ich and Nicht Ich, Ego and Non Ego, the basis of his philosophy; in other words, the difference of subjective and objective reality.

His mind. 87. The scepticism of Descartes, it appears, which is merely provisional, is not at all similar to that of the Pyrrhonists, though some of his arguments may have been shafts from their quiver. |Not sceptical.| Nor did he make use, which is somewhat remarkable, of the reasonings afterwards employed by Berkley against the material world, though no one more frequently distinguished than Descartes between the objective reality, as it was then supposed to be, of ideas in the mind, and the external or sensible reality of things. Scepticism, in fact, was so far from being characteristic of his disposition, that his errors sprang chiefly from the opposite source, little as he was aware of it, from an undue positiveness in theories which he could not demonstrate, or even render highly probable.[230]

[230] One of the rules Descartes lays down in his posthumous art of logic, is that we ought never to busy ourselves except about objects concerning which our understanding appears capable of acquiring an unquestionable and certain knowledge, vol. xi., p. 204. This is at least too unlimited a proposition, and would exclude, not indeed all probability, but all inquiries which must by necessity end in nothing more than probability. Accordingly, we find in the next pages, that he made little account of any sciences but arithmetic and geometry, or such others as equal them in certainty. “From all this,” he concludes, “we may infer, not that arithmetic and geometry are the only sciences which we must learn, but that he who seeks the road to truth should not trouble himself with any object of which he cannot have as certain a knowledge, as of arithmetical and geometrical demonstrations.” It is unnecessary to observe what havoc this would make with investigations, even in physics, of the highest importance to mankind.

Beattie, in the essay on Truth, part ii. chap. 2, has made some unfounded criticisms on the scepticism of Descartes, and endeavours to turn into ridicule his, Cogito; ergo sum. Yet if any one should deny his own, or our existence, I do not see how we could refute him, were he worthy of refutation, but by some such language; and, in fact, it is what Beattie himself says, more paraphrastically, in answering Hume.

He arrives at more certainty. 88. The certainty of an existing Ego easily led him to that of the operations of the mind, called afterwards by Locke ideas of reflection, the believing, doubting, willing, loving, fearing, which he knew by consciousness, and indeed by means of which alone he knew that the Ego existed. He now proceeded a step farther; and reflecting on the simplest truths of arithmetic and geometry, saw that it was as impossible to doubt of them as of the acts of his mind. But as he had before tried to doubt even of these, on the hypothesis that he might be deceived by a superior intelligent power, he resolved to inquire whether such a power existed, and if it did, whether it could be a deceiver. The affirmative of the former, and the negative of the latter question Descartes established by that extremely subtle reasoning so much celebrated in the seventeenth century, but which has less frequently been deemed conclusive in later times. It is at least that which no man, not fitted by long practise for metaphysical researches, will pretend to embrace.

His proof of a Deity. 89. The substance of his argument was this. He found within himself the idea of a perfect Intelligence, eternal, infinite, necessary. This could not come from himself, nor from external things, because both were imperfect, and there could be no more in the effect than there is in the cause. [Pg 494] And this idea requiring a cause, it could have none but an actual being, not a possible being, which is undistinguishable from mere non-entity. If, however, this should be denied, he inquires whether he, with this idea of God, could have existed by any other cause, if there were no God. Not, he argues, by himself; for, if he were the author of his own being, he would have given himself every perfection, in a word, would have been God. Not by his parents, for the same might be said of them, and so forth, if we remount to a series of productive beings. Besides this, as much power is required to preserve as to create, and the continuance of existence in the effect implies the continued operation of the cause.

Another proof of it. 90. With this argument, in itself sufficiently refined, Descartes blended another still more distant from common apprehension. Necessary existence is involved in the idea of God. All other beings are conceivable in their essence, as things possible; in God alone his essence and existence are inseparable. Existence is necessary to perfection; hence, a perfect being, or God, cannot be conceived without necessary existence. Though I do not know that I have misrepresented Descartes in this result of his very subtle argument, it is difficult not to treat it as a sophism. And it was always objected by his adversaries, that he inferred the necessity of the thing from the necessity of the idea, which was the very point in question. It seems impossible to vindicate many of his expressions, from which he never receded in the controversy to which his meditations gave rise. But the long habit of repeating in his mind the same series of reasonings gave Descartes, as it will always do, an inward assurance of their certainty, which could not be weakened by any objection. The former argument for the being of God, whether satisfactory or not, is to be distinguished from the present.[231]

[231] “From what is said already of the ignorance we are in of the essence of mind, it is evident that we are not able to know whether any mind be necessarily existent by a necessity à priori founded in its essence, as we have showed time and space to be. Some philosophers think that such a necessity may be demonstrated of God from the nature of perfection. For God being infinitely, that is, absolutely perfect, they say he must needs be necessarily existent; because, say they, necessary existence is one of the greatest of perfections. But I take this to be one of those false and imaginary arguments, that are founded in the abuse of certain terms; and of all others this word, perfection, seems to have suffered most this way. I wish I could clearly understand what these philosophers mean by the word perfection, when they thus say, that necessity of existence is perfection. Does perfection here signify the same thing that it does, when we say that God is infinitely good, omnipotent, omniscient? Surely perfections are properly asserted of the several powers that attend the essences of things, and not of anything else, but in a very unnatural and improper sense. Perfection is a term of relation, and its sense implies a fitness or agreement to some certain end, and most properly to some power in the thing that is denominated perfect. The term, as the etymology of it shows, is taken from the operation of artists. When an artist proposes to himself to make anything that shall be serviceable to a certain effect, his work is called more or less perfect, according as it agrees more or less with the design of the artist. From arts, by a similitude of sense, this word has been introduced into morality, and signifies that quality of an agent by which it is able to act agreeable to the end its actions tend to. The metaphysicians who reduce everything to transcendental considerations, have also translated this term into their science, and use it to signify the agreement that anything has with that idea, which it is required that thing should answer to. This perfection, therefore, belongs to those attributes that constitute the essence of a thing; and that being is properly called the most perfect which has all, the best, and each the completest in its kind of those attributes, which can be united in one essence. Perfection, therefore, belongs to the essence of things, and not properly to their existence; which is not a perfection of anything, no attribute of it, but only the mere constitution of it in rerum natura. Necessary existence, therefore, which is a mode of existence, is not a perfection, it being no attribute of the thing no more than existence is, which is a mode of it. But it may be said, that though necessary existence is not a perfection in itself, yet it is so in its cause, upon account of that attribute of the entity from whence it flows; that that attribute must of all others be the most perfect and most excellent, which necessary existence flows from, it being such as cannot be conceived otherwise than as existing. But what excellency, what perfection is there in all this? Space is necessarily existent on account of extension, which cannot be conceived otherwise than as existing. But what perfection is there in space upon this account, which can in no manner act on anything, which is entirely devoid of all power, wherein I have showed all perfections to consist? Therefore, necessary existence, abstractedly considered, is no perfection; and, therefore, the idea of infinite perfection does not include, and consequently not prove, God to be necessarily existence [sic]. If he be so, it is on account of those attributes of his essence which we have no knowledge of.”

I have made this extract from a very short tract, called Contemplatio Philosophica, by Brook Taylor, which I found in an unpublished memoir of his life printed by the late Sir William Young, in 1793. It bespeaks the clear and acute understanding of this celebrated philosopher, and appears to me an entire refutation of the scholastic argument of Descartes; one more fit for the Anselms and such dealers in words, from whom it came, than for himself.

His deductions from this. 91. From the idea of a perfect being, Descartes immediately deduced the truth of his belief in an external world, and in the inferences of his reason. For to deceive his creatures [Pg 495] would be an imperfection in God; but God is perfect. Whatever, therefore, is clearly and distinctly apprehended by our reason, must be true. We have only to be on our guard against our own precipitancy and prejudice, or surrender of our reason to the authority of others. It is not by our understanding, such as God gave it to us, that we are deceived; but the exercise of our free will, a high prerogative of our nature, is often so incautious as to make us not discern truth from falsehood, and affirm or deny, by a voluntary act, that which we do not distinctly apprehend. The properties of quantity, founded on our ideas of extension and number, are distinctly perceived by our minds, and hence the sciences of arithmetic and geometry are certainly true. But when he turns his thoughts to the phenomena of external sensation, Descartes cannot wholly extricate himself from his original concession, the basis of his doubt, that the senses do sometimes deceive us. He endeavours to reconcile this with his own theory, which had built the certainty of all that we clearly hold certain on the perfect veracity of God.

Primary and secondary qualities. 92. It is in this inquiry that he reaches that important distinction between the primary and secondary properties of matter, the latter being modifications of the former, relative only to our apprehension, but not inherent in things, which, without being wholly new, contradicted the Aristotelian theories of the schools;[232] and he remarked that we are never, strictly speaking, deceived by our senses, but by the inferences which we draw from them.

[232] See Stewart’s First Dissertation on the Progress of Philosophy. This writer has justly observed, that many persons conceive colour to be inherent in the object, so that the censure of Reid on Descartes and his followers, as having pretended to discover what no one doubted, is at least unreasonable in this respect. A late writer has gone so far as to say: “Nothing at first can seem a more rational, obvious, and incontrovertible conclusion, than that the colour of a body is an inherent quality, like its weight, hardness, &c; and that to see the object, and to see it of its own colour, when nothing intervenes between our eyes and it, are one and the same thing. Yet this is only a prejudice.” &c. Herschel’s Discourse on Nat. Philos., p. 82. I almost even suspect that the notion of sounds and smells being secondary or merely sensible qualities, is not distinct in all men’s minds. But after we are become familiar with correct ideas, it is not easy to revive prejudices in our imagination. In the same page of Stewart’s Dissertation, he has been led, by dislike of the university of Oxford, to misconceive, in an extraordinary manner, a passage of Addison in the Guardian, which is evidently a sportive ridicule of the Cartesian theory, and is absolutely inapplicable to the Aristotelian.

93. Such is nearly the substance, exclusive of a great variety of more or less episodical theories, of the three metaphysical works of Descartes, the history of the soul’s progress from opinion to doubt, and from doubt to certainty. Few would dispute, at the present day, that he has destroyed too much of his foundations to render his superstructure stable; and to readers averse from metaphysical reflection, he must seem little else than an idle theorist, weaving cobwebs for pastime which common sense sweeps away. It is fair, however, to observe, that no one was more careful than Descartes to guard against any practical scepticism in the affairs of life. He even goes so far as to maintain, that a man having adopted any practical opinion on such grounds as seem probable should pursue it with as much steadiness as if it were founded on demonstration; observing, however, as a general rule, to choose the most moderate opinions among those which he should find current in his own country.[233]

[233] Vol. i., p. 147. Vol. iii., p. 64.

Objections made to his Meditations. 94. The objections adduced against the Meditations are in a series of seven. The first are by a theologian named Caterus, the second by Mersenne, the third by Hobbes, the fourth by Arnauld, the fifth by Gassendi, the sixth by some anonymous writers, the seventh by a Jesuit of the name of Bourdin. To all of these Descartes replied with spirit and acuteness. By far the most important controversy was with Gassendi, whose objections were stated more briefly, and I think with less skill, by Hobbes. It was the first trumpet in the new philosophy of an ancient war between the sensual and ideal schools of psychology. Descartes had revived, and placed in a clearer light, the doctrine of mind, as not absolutely dependent upon the senses, nor of the same nature as their objects. [Pg 496] Stewart does not acknowledge him as the first teacher of the soul’s immateriality. “That many of the schoolmen, and that the wisest of the ancient philosophers, when they described the mind as a spirit, or as a spark of celestial fire, employed these expressions, not with any intention to materialize its essence, but merely from want of more unexceptionable language, might be shown with demonstrative evidence, if this were the proper place for entering into the discussion.”[234] But though it cannot be said that Descartes was absolutely the first who maintained the strict immateriality of the soul, it is manifest to any one who has read his correspondence, that the tenet, instead of being general, as we are apt to presume, was by no means in accordance with the common opinion of his age. The fathers, with the exception, perhaps the single one, of Augustin, had taught the corporeity of the thinking substance. Arnauld seems to consider the doctrine of Descartes as almost a novelty in modern times. “What you have written concerning the distinction between the soul and body appears to me very clear, very evident, and quite divine; and as nothing is older than truth, I have had singular pleasure to see that almost the same things have formerly been very perspicuously and agreeably handled by St. Augustin in all his tenth book on the Trinity, but chiefly in the tenth chapter.”[235] But Arnauld himself, in his objections to the Meditations, had put it as at least questionable, whether that which thinks is not something extended, which, besides the usual properties of extended substances, such as mobility and figure, has also this particular virtue and power of thinking.[236] The reply of Descartes removed the difficulty of the illustrious Jansenist, who became an ardent and almost complete disciple of the new philosophy. In a placard against the Cartesian philosophy, printed in 1647, which seems to have come from Revius, professor of theology at Leyden, it is said: “As far as regards the nature of things, nothing seems to hinder but that the soul may be either a substance, or a mode of corporeal substance.”[237] And More, who had carried on a metaphysical correspondence with Descartes, whom he professed to admire, at least at that time, above all philosophers that had ever existed, without exception of his favourite Plato, extols him after his death in a letter to Clerselier, as having best established the foundations of religion. “For the peripatetics,” he says, “pretend that there are certain substantial forms emanating from matter, and so united to it that they cannot subsist without it, to which class these philosophers refer the souls of almost all living beings, even those to which they allow sensation and thought; while the Epicureans, on the other hand, who laugh at substantial forms, ascribe thought to matter itself, so that it is M. Descartes alone of all philosophers, who has at once banished from philosophy all these substantial forms or souls derived from matter, and absolutely divested matter itself of the faculty of feeling and thinking.”[238]

[234] Dissertation, ubi suprà.

[235] Descartes, x. 138.

[236] Id. ii 14.

[237] Vol. x., p. 73.

[238] Vol. x., p. 386. Even More seems to have been perplexed at one time by the difficulty of accounting for the knowledge and sentiment of disembodied souls, and almost inclined to admit their corporeity. “J’aimerois mieux dire avec les Platoniciens, les anciens pères, et presque tous les philosophes, que les âmes humaines, tous les génies tant bons que mauvais, sont corporels, et que par consequent ils ont un sentiment réel, c’est à dire, qui leur vient du corps dont ils sont revetus.” This is in a letter to Descartes, in 1649, which I have not read in Latin (vol. x., p. 249). I do not quite understand whether he meant only that the soul, when separated from the gross body, is invested with a substantial clothing, or that there is what we may call an interior body, a supposed monad, to which the thinking principle is indissolubly united. This is what all materialists mean, who have any clear notions whatever; it is a possible, perhaps a plausible, perhaps even a highly probable, hypothesis, but one which will not prove their theory. The former seems almost an indispensable supposition, if we admit sensibility to phenomena at all in the soul after death; but it is rather, perhaps, a theological than a metaphysical speculation.

Theory of memory and imagination. 95. It must be owned that the firm belief of Descartes in the immateriality of the Ego or thinking principle, was accompanied with what in later times would have been deemed rather too great concessions to the materialists. He held the imagination and the memory to be portions of the brain, wherein the images of our sensations are bodily preserved; and even assigned such a motive force to the imagination, as to produce those involuntary actions which we often perform, and all the movements of brutes. “This explains how all the motions of all animals arise, though we grant them no knowledge of things, but only an imagination entirely corporeal, and how all those operations which do not require the concurrence of reason are produced in us.” But the whole of his notions as to the connexion [Pg 497] of the soul and body, and indeed all his physiological theories, of which he was most enamoured, do little credit to the Cartesian philosophy. They are among those portions of his creed which have lain most open to ridicule, and which it would be useless for us to detail. He seems to have expected more advantage to psychology from anatomical researches than in that state of the science, or even probably in any future state of it, anatomy could afford. When asked once where was his library, he replied, showing a calf he was dissecting, This is my library.[239] His treatise on the passions, a subject so important in the philosophy of the human mind, is made up of crude hypotheses, or at best irrelevant observations, on their physical causes and concomitants.

[239] Descartes was very fond of dissection: C’est un exercise où je me suis souvent occupé depuis onze ans, et je crois qu’il n’y a guère de médecins qui y ait regardé de si près que moi. Vol. viii., p. 100., also p. 174 and 180.

Seat of soul in pineal gland. 96. It may be considered as a part of this syncretism, as we may call it, of the material and immaterial hypothesis, that Descartes fixed the seat of the soul in the conarion, or pineal gland, which he selected as the only part of the brain which is not double. By some mutual communication which he did not profess to explain, though later metaphysicians have attempted to do so, the unextended intelligence, thus confined to a certain spot, receives the sensations which are immediately produced through impressions on the substance of the brain. If he did not solve the problem, be it remembered that the problem has never since been solved. It was objected by a nameless correspondent, who signs himself Hyperaspistes, that the soul being incorporeal could not leave by its operations a trace on the brain, which his theory seemed to imply. Descartes answered, in rather a remarkable passage, that as to things purely intellectual, we do not, properly speaking, remember them at all, as they are equally original thoughts every time they present themselves to the mind, except that they are habitually joined as it were, and associated with certain names, which being bodily, make us remember them.[240]

[240] This passage I must give in French, finding it very obscure, and having translated more according to what I guess than literally. Mais pour ce qui est des choses purement intellectuelles, à proprement parler on n’en aucun ressouvenir; et la première fois qu’elles se présentent à l’esprit, on les pense aussi bien que la seconde, si ce n’est peut-être qu’elles ont coûtume d’être jointes et comme attachées a certains noms qui, étant corporels, font que nous nous ressouvenons aussi d’elles. Vol. viii., p. 271.

Gassendi’s attacks on the Meditations. 97. If the orthodox of the age were not yet prepared for a doctrine which seemed so favourable at least to natural religion as the immateriality of the soul, it may be readily supposed, that Gassendi, like Hobbes, had imbibed too much of the Epicurean theory to acquiesce in the spiritualising principles of his adversary. In a sportive style, he addresses him, O anima! and Descartes, replying more angrily, retorts upon him the name O caro! which he frequently repeats. Though we may lament such unhappy efforts at wit in these great men, the names do not ill represent the spiritual and carnal philosophies; the school that produced Leibnitz, Kant, and Stewart, contrasted with that of Hobbes, Condillac, and Cabanis.

Superiority of Descartes. 98. It was a matter of course that the vulnerable passages of the six Meditations would not escape the spear of so skilful an antagonist as Gassendi. But many of his objections appear to be little more than cavils; and upon the whole, Descartes leaves me with the impression of his great superiority in metaphysical acuteness. It was indeed impossible that men should agree, who persisted in using a different definition of the important word, idea; and the same source of interminable controversy has flowed ever since for their disciples. Gassendi adopting the scholastic maxim, “Nothing is in the understanding, which has not been in the sense,” carried it so much farther than those from whom it came that he denied anything to be an idea but what was imagined by the mind. Descartes repeatedly desired both him and Hobbes, whose philosophy was built on the same notion, to remark that he meant by idea, whatever can be conceived by the understanding, though not capable of being represented by the imagination.[241] Thus we imagine a triangle, [Pg 498] but we can only conceive a figure of a thousand sides; we know its existence, and can reason about its properties, but we have no image whatever in the mind, by which we can distinguish such a polygon from one of a smaller or greater number of sides. Hobbes, in answer to this, threw out a paradox which he has not, at least in so unlimited a manner, repeated, that by reason, that is, by the process of reasoning, we can infer nothing as to the nature of things, but only as to their names.[242] It is singular that a man conversant at least with the elements of geometry should have fallen into this error. For it does not appear that he meant to speak only of natural substances, as to which his language might seem to be a bad expression of what was afterwards clearly shown by Locke. That the understanding can conceive and reason upon that which the imagination cannot delineate, is evident not only from Descartes’ instance of a polygon, but more strikingly by the whole theory of infinites, which are certainly somewhat more than bare words, whatever assistance words may give us in explaining them to others or to ourselves.[243]

[241] Par le nom d’idée, il veut seulement qu’on entende ici les images des choses matérielles dépeintes en la fantaisie corporelle; et cela étant supposé, il lui est aisé de montrer qu’on ne peut avoir propre et véritable idée de Dieu ni d’un ange; mais j’ai souvent averti, et principalement en celui là même, que je prends le nom d’idée pour tout ce qui est conçu immédiatement par l’esprit; en sorte que, lorsque je veux et que je crains, parce que je conçois en même temps que je veux et que je crains, ce vouloir et cette crainte sont mis par moi en nombre des idées; et je me suis servi de ce mot, parce qu’il étoit déjà communément reçu par les philosophes pour signifier les formes des conceptions. de l’entendement divin, encore que nous ne reconnoissions en Dieu aucune fantaisie ou imagination corporelle, et je n’en savois point de plus propre. Et je pense avoir assez expliqué l’idée de Dieu pour ceux qui veulent concevoir les sens que je donne à mes paroles; mais pour ceux qui s’attachent à les entendre autrement que je ne fais, je ne le pourrais jamais assez. Vol. i., p. 404. This is in answer to Hobbes; the objections of Hobbes, and Descartes’ replies, turn very much on this primary difference between ideas and images, which alone our countrymen could understand, and ideas as intellections, conceptions, νοουμενα, incapable of being imagined, but not less certainly known and reasoned upon. The French is a translation, but made by Clerselier under the eye of Descartes, so that it may be quoted as an original.

[242] Que dirons nous maintenant si peut-être le raisonnement n’est rien autre chose qu’un assemblage et un enchaînement de noms par ce mot est? D’ou il s’ensuivroit que par la raison nous ne concluons rien de tout touchant la nature des choses, mais seulement touchant leurs appellations, c’est à dire que par elle nous voyons simplement si nous assemblons bien ou mal les noms des choses, selon les conventions que nous avons faites à notre fantaisie touchant leurs significations, p. 476. Descartes merely answered:—L’assemblage qui se fait dans le raisonnement n’est pas celui des noms, mais bien celui des choses signifiées par les noms; et je m’étonne que le contraire puisse venir en l’esprit de personne. Descartes treated Hobbes, whom he did not esteem, with less attention than his other correspondents. Hobbes could not understand what have been called ideas of reflection, such as fear, and thought it was nothing more than the idea of the object feared. “For what else is the fear of a lion,” he says, “than the idea of this lion, and the effect which it produces in the heart, which leads us to run away? But this running is not a thought; so that nothing of thought exists in fear but the idea of the object.” Descartes only replied, “it is self-evident that it is not the same thing to see a lion and fear him, that it is to see him only,” p. 483.

[243] I suspect, from what I have since read, that Hobbes had a different, and what seems to me a very erroneous view of infinite, or infinitesimal quantities in geometry. For he answers the old sophism of Zeno, Quicquid dividi potest in partes infinitas est infinitum, in a manner which does not meet the real truth of the case: Dividi posse in partes infinitas nihil aliud est quam dividi posse in partes quotcunque quis velit. Logica sive Computatio, c. 5., p. 38 (edit. 1667).

Stewart’s remarks on Descartes. 99. Dugald Stewart has justly dwelt on the signal service rendered by Descartes to psychological philosophy, by turning the mental vision inward upon itself, and accustoming us to watch the operations of our intellect, which, though employed upon ideas obtained through the senses, are as distinguishable from them as the workman from his work. He has given indeed to Descartes a very proud title, Father of the experimental philosophy of the human mind, as if he were to man what Bacon was to nature.[244] By patient observation of [Pg 499] what passed within him, by holding his soul as it were an object in a microscope, which is the only process of a good metaphysician, he became habituated to throw away those integuments of sense which hide us from ourselves. Stewart has censured him for the paradox, as he calls it, that the essence of mind consists in thinking, and that of matter in extension. That the act of thinking is as inseparable from the mind as extension is from matter, cannot indeed be proved; since, as our thoughts are successive, it is not inconceivable that there may be intervals of duration between them; but it can hardly be reckoned a paradox. But whoever should be led by the word essence to suppose that Descartes confounded the percipient thinking substance, the Ego, upon whose bosom, like that of the ocean, the waves of perception are raised by every breeze of sense, with the perception itself, or even, what is scarcely more tenable, with the reflective action, or thought; that he anticipated this strange paradox of Hume in his earliest work, from which he silently withdrew in his Essays, would not only do great injustice to one of the acutest understandings that ever came to the subject, but overlook several clear assertions of the distinction, especially in his answer to Hobbes. “The thought,” he says, “differs from that which thinks, as the mode from the substance.”[245] And Stewart has in his earliest work justly corrected Reid in this point as to the Cartesian doctrine.[246]

[244] Dissertation on Progress of Philosophy. The word experiment must be taken in the sense of observation. Stewart very early took up his admiration for Descartes. “He was the first philosopher who stated in a clear and satisfactory manner the distinction between mind and matter, and who pointed out the proper plan for studying the intellectual philosophy. It is chiefly in consequence of his precise ideas with respect to this distinction, that we may remark in all his metaphysical writings, a perspicuity which is not observable in those of any of his predecessors.” Elem. of Philos. of Human Mind, vol. i. (published in 1792) note A. “When Descartes,” he says in the dissertation before quoted, “established it as a general principle that nothing conceivable by the power of imagination could throw any light on the operations of thought, a principle which I consider as exclusively his own, he laid the foundations of the experimental philosophy of the human mind. That the same truth had been previously perceived more or less distinctly by Bacon and others, appears probable from the general complexion of their speculations; but which of them has expressed it with equal precision, or laid it down as a fundamental maxim in their logic?” The words which I have put in italics seem too vaguely and not very clearly expressed, nor am I aware that they are borne out in their literal sense, by any position of Descartes; nor do I apprehend the allusion to Bacon. But it is certain that Descartes, and still more his disciples Arnauld and Malebranche, take better care to distinguish what can be imagined from what can be conceived or understood, than any of the school of Gassendi in this or other countries. One of the great merits of Descartes as a metaphysical writer, not unconnected with this, is that he is generally careful to avoid figurative language in speaking of mental operations, wherein he has much the advantage over Locke.

[245] Vol. i., p. 470. Arnauld objected, in a letter to Descartes, Comment se peut il faire que la pensée constitue l’essence de l’esprit, puisque l’esprit est une substance, et que la pensée semble n’en être qu’un mode? Descartes replied that thought in general, la pensée, ou la nature que pense, in which he placed the essence of the soul, was very different from such or such particular acts of thinking, vol. vi., p. 153-160.

[246] Philosophy of Human Mind, vol. i., note A. See the Principia, § 63.

Paradoxes of Descartes. 100. Several singular positions which have led to an undue depreciation of Descartes in general as a philosopher, occur in his metaphysical writings. Such was his denial of thought, and, as is commonly said, sensation to brutes, which he seems to have founded on the mechanism of the bodily organs, a cause sufficient, in his opinion, to explain all the phænomena of the motions of animals, and to obviate the difficulty of assigning to them immaterial souls;[247] his rejection of final causes in the [Pg 500] explanation of nature, as far above our comprehension, and unnecessary to those who had the internal proof of God’s existence; his still more paradoxical tenet that the truth of geometrical theorems, and every other axiom of intuitive certainty, depended upon the will of God; a notion that seems to be a relic of his original scepticism, but which he pertinaciously defends throughout his letters.[248] From remarkable errors, men of original and independent genius are rarely exempt; Descartes had pulled down an edifice constructed by the labours of near two thousand years, with great reason in many respects, yet perhaps with too unlimited a disregard of his predecessors; it was his destiny, as it had been theirs, to be sometimes refuted and depreciated in his turn. But the single fact of his having first established, both in philosophical and popular belief, the immateriality of the soul, were we even to forget the other great accessions which he made to psychology, would declare the influence he has had on human opinion. From this immateriality, however, he did not derive the tenet of its immortality. He was justly contented to say that from the intrinsic difference between mind and body, the dissolution of the one could not necessarily take away the existence of the other, but that it was for God to determine whether it should continue to exist; and this determination, as he thought, could only be learned from his revealed will. The more powerful arguments, according to general apprehension, which reason affords for the sentient being of the soul after death, did not belong to the metaphysical philosophy of Descartes, and would never have been very satisfactory to his mind. He says, in one of his letters, that “laying aside what faith assures us of, he owns that it is more easy to make conjectures for our own advantage and entertain promising hopes, than to feel any confidence in their accomplishment.”[249]

[247] It is a common opinion that Descartes denied all life and sensibility to brutes. But this seems not so clear. Il faut remarquer, he says in a letter to More, where he has been arguing against the existence in brutes of any thinking principle, que je parle de la pensée, non de la vie, ou du sentiment; car je n’ôte la vie à aucun animal, ne la faisant consister que dans la seule chaleur du cœur. Je ne leur refuse pas même le sentiment autant qu’il dépend des organes du corps, vol. x., p. 208. In a longer passage, if he does not express himself very clearly, he admits passions in brutes, and it seems impossible that he could have ascribed passions to what has no sensation. Much of what he here says is very good. Bien que Montaigne et Charron aient dit, qu’il y a plus de différence d’homme à homme que d’homme à bête, il n’est toutefois jamais trouvé aucune bête si parfaite, qu’elle ait usé de quelque signe pour faire entendre à d’autres animaux quelque chose que n’eût point de rapport à ses passions; et il n’y a point d’homme si imparfait qu’il n’en use; en sorte que ceux qui sont sourds et muets inventent des signes particuliers par lesquels ils expriment leur pensées; ce qui me semble un très fort argument pour prouver que ce qui fait que les bêtes ne parlent point comme nous, est qu’elles n’ont aucune pensée, et non point que les organes leur manquent. Et on ne peut dire qu’elles parlent entre elles, mais que nous ne les entendons pas; car comme les chiens et quelques autres animaux nous expriment leurs passions, ils nous exprimeroient aussi bien leurs pensées s’ils en avoient. Je sais bien que les bêtes font beaucoup de choses mieux que nous, mais je ne m’en étonne pas; car cela même sert à prouver qu’elles agissent naturellement, et par ressorts, ainsi qu’un horloge; laquelle montre bien mieux l’heure qu’il est, que notre jugement nous l’enseigne.... On peut seulement dire que, bien que les bêtes ne fassent aucune action qui nous assure qu’elles pensent, toutefois, à cause que les organes de leurs corps ne sont pas fort differens des nôtres, on peut conjecturer qu’il y a quelque pensée jointe à ces organes, ainsi que nous experimentons en nous, bien que la leur soit beaucoup moins parfaite; à quoi je n’ai rien à répondre, si non que si elles pensoient aussi que nous, elles auroient une ame immortelle aussi bien que nous; ce qui n’est pas vraisemblable, à cause qu’il n’y a point de raison pour le croire de quelques animaux, sans le croire de tous, et qu’il y en a plusieurs trop imparfaits pour pouvoir croire cela d’eux, comme sont les huitres, les éponges, &c. Vol. ix., p. 425. I do not see the meaning of une ame immortelle in the last sentence; if the words had been une ame immortelle, it would be to the purpose. More, in a letter to which this is a reply, had argued as if Descartes took brutes for insensible machines, and combats the paradox with the arguments which common sense furnishes. He would even have preferred ascribing immortality to them, as many ancient philosophers did. But surely Descartes, who did not acknowledge any proofs of the immortality of the human soul to be valid, except those founded on revelation, needed not to trouble himself much about this difficulty.

[248] C’est en effet parler de Dieu comme d’un Jupiter ou d’un Saturne, et l’assujettir au Styx et aux destinées, que de dire que ces vérités sont indépendantes de lui. Ne craignez point, je vous prie, d’assurer et de publier partout que c’est Dieu qui a établi ces lois en la nature, ainsi qu’un roi établit les lois en son royaume. Vol. vi., p. 109. He argues as strenuously the same point in p. 132 and p. 307.

[249] Vol. ix., p. 369.

His just notion of definitions. 101. Descartes was perhaps the first who saw that definitions of words, already as clear as they can be made, are nugatory or impenetrable. This alone would distinguish his philosophy from that of the Aristotelians, who had wearied and confused themselves for twenty centuries with unintelligible endeavours to grasp by definition what refuses to be defined. “Mr Locke,” says Stewart, “claims this improvement as entirely his own, but the merit of it unquestionably belongs to Descartes, although it must be owned that he has not always sufficiently attended to it in his researches.”[250] A still more decisive passage to this effect, than that referred to by Stewart in the Principia will be found in the posthumous dialogue on the Search after Truth. It is objected by one of the interlocutors, as it had actually been by Gassendi, that, to prove his existence by the act of thinking, he should first know what existence and what thought is. “I agree with you,” the representative of Descartes replies, “that it is necessary to know what doubt is, and what thought is, before we can be fully persuaded of this reasoning; I doubt, therefore I am, or what is the same, I think, therefore I am. But do not imagine that for this purpose you must torture your mind to find out the next genus, or the essential differences, as the logicians talk, and so compose a regular definition. Leave this to such as teach or dispute in the schools. But whoever will examine things by himself, and judge of them according to his understanding, cannot be so senseless as not to see clearly, when he pays attention, what doubting, thinking, being, are, and as to have any need to learn their distinctions. Besides, there are things which we render more obscure, in attempting to define them, because, as they are very simple and very clear, we cannot know and comprehend them better than by themselves. And it [Pg 501] should be reckoned among the chief errors that can be committed in science for men to fancy that they can define that which they can only conceive, and distinguish what is clear in it from what is obscure, while they do not see the difference between that which must be defined before it is understood and that which can be fully known by itself. Now, among things which can thus be clearly known by themselves, we must put doubting, thinking, being. For I do not believe any one ever existed so stupid as to need to know what being is before he could affirm that he is; and it is the same of thought and doubt. Nor can he learn these things except by himself, nor be convinced of them but by his own experience, and by that consciousness and inward witness which every man finds in himself when he examines the subject. And as we should define whiteness in vain to a man who can see nothing, while one can open his eyes and see a white object requires no more, so to know what doubting is, and what thinking is, it is only necessary to doubt and to think.”[251] Nothing could more tend to cut short the verbal cavils of the schoolmen, than this limitation of their favourite exercise, definition. It is due, therefore, to Descartes, so often accused of appropriating the discoveries of others, that we should establish his right to one of the most important that the new logic has to boast.

[250] Dissertation, ubi, suprá, Stewart, in his Philosophical Essays, note A, had censured Reid for assigning this remark to Descartes and Locke, but without giving any better reason than that it is found in a work written by Lord Stair; earlier, certainly, than Locke, but not before Descartes. It may be doubtful, as we shall see hereafter, whether Locke has not gone beyond Descartes, or at least distinguished undefinable words more strictly.

[251] Vol. xi., p. 369.

His notion of substances. 102. He seems, at one moment, to have been on the point of taking another step very far in advance of his age. “Let us take,” he says, “a piece of wax from the honey-comb; it retains some taste and smell, it is hard, it is cold, it has a very marked colour, form, and size. Approach it to the fire; it becomes liquid, warm, inodorous, tasteless; its form and colour are changed, its size is increased. Does the same wax remain after these changes? It must be allowed that it does; no one doubts it, no one thinks otherwise. What was it then that we so distinctly knew to exist in this piece of wax? Nothing certainly that we observed by the senses, since all that the taste, the smell, the sight, the touch reported to us has disappeared, and still the same wax remains.” This something which endures under every change of sensible qualities cannot be imagined; for the imagination must represent some of these qualities, and none of them are essential to the thing; it can only be conceived by the understanding.[252]

[252] Méditation Seconde, i. 256.

Not quite correct. 103. It may seem almost surprising to us, after the writings of Locke and his followers on the one hand, and the chemist with his crucible on the other, have chased these abstract substances of material objects from their sanctuaries, that a man of such prodigious acuteness and intense reflection as Descartes should not have remarked that the identity of wax after its liquefaction is merely nominal, and depending on arbitrary language, which in many cases gives new appellations to the same aggregation of particles after a change of their sensible qualities; and that all we call substances are but aggregates of resisting moveable corpuscles, which by the laws of nature are capable of affecting our senses differently, according to the combinations they may enter into, and the changes they may successively undergo. But if he had distinctly seen this, which I do not apprehend that he did, it is not likely that he would have divulged the discovery. He had already given alarm to the jealous spirit of orthodoxy by what now appears to many so self-evident, that they have treated the supposed paradox as a trifling with words, the doctrine that colour, heat, smell, and other secondary qualities, or accidents of bodies, do not exist in them, but in our own minds, and are the effects of their intrinsic or primary qualities. It was the the tenet of the schools that these were sensible realities, inherent in bodies; and the church held as an article of faith, that the substance of bread being withdrawn from the consecrated wafer, the accidents of that substance remained as before, but independent, and not inherent in any other. Arnauld raised this objection, which Descartes endeavoured to repel by a new theory of transubstantiation; but it always left a shade of suspicion, in the Catholic church of Rome, on the orthodoxy of Cartesianism.

His notions of intuitive truth. 104. “The paramount and indisputable authority which, in all our reasonings concerning the human mind, he ascribes to the evidence of consciousness” is reckoned by Stewart among the great merits of Descartes. It is certain that there are truths which we know, as it is called, intuitively, that is, by the mind’s immediate inward glance. And reasoning would be interminable, if it did not find its ultimate limit in truths which it cannot prove. Gassendi imputed to Descartes, that, in his fundamental enthymem, Cogito, ergo sum, he supposed a knowledge of the major premise, Quod [Pg 502] cogitat, est. But Descartes replied that it was a great error to believe that our knowledge of particular propositions must always be deduced from universals, according to the rules of logic; whereas, on the contrary, it is by means of our knowledge of particulars that we ascend to generals, though it is true that we descend again from them to infer other particular propositions.[253] It is probable that Gassendi did not make this objection very seriously.

[253] Vol. ii., p. 305. See too the passage, quoted above, in his posthumous dialogue.

105. Thus the logic of Descartes, using that word for principles that guide our reasoning, was an instrument of defence both against the captiousness of ordinary scepticism, that of the Pyrrhonic school, and against the disputatious dogmatism of those who professed to serve under the banner of Aristotle. He who reposes on his own consciousness, or who recurs to first principles of intuitive knowledge, though he cannot be said to silence his adversary, should have the good sense to be silent himself, which puts equally an end to debate. But so far as we are concerned with the investigation of truth, the Cartesian appeal to our own consciousness, of which Stewart was very fond, just as it is in principle, may end in an assumption of our own prejudices as the standard of belief. Nothing can be truly self-evident, but that which a clear, an honest, and an experienced understanding in another man acknowledges to be so.

Treatise on art of logic. 106. Descartes has left a treatise highly valuable, but not very much known, on the art of logic, or rules for the conduct of the understanding.[254] Once only, in a letter, he has alluded to the name of Bacon.[255] There are perhaps a few passages in this short tract that remind us of the Novum Organum. But I do not know that the coincidence is such as to warrant a suspicion that he was indebted to it; we may reckon it rather a parallel, than a derivative logic; written in the same spirit of cautious, inductive procedure, less brilliant and original in its inventions, but of more general application than the Novum Organum, which is with some difficulty extended beyond the province of natural philosophy. Descartes is as averse as Bacon to syllogistic forms. “Truth,” he says, “often escapes from these fetters, in which those who employ them remain entangled. This is less frequently the case with those who make no use of logic, experience showing that the most subtle of sophisms cheat none but sophists themselves, not those who trust to their natural reason. And to convince ourselves how little this syllogistic art serves towards the discovery of truth, we may remark that the logicians can form no syllogism with a true conclusion, unless they are already acquainted with the truth that the syllogism develops. Hence it follows that the vulgar logic is wholly useless to him who would discover truth for himself, though it may assist in explaining to others the truth he already knows, and that it would be better to transfer it as a science from philosophy to rhetoric.”[256]

[254] M. Cousin has translated and republished two works of Descartes, which had only appeared in Opera Posthuma Cartesii, Amsterdam, 1701. Their authenticity, from external and intrinsic proofs, is out of question. One of these is that mentioned in the text; entitled “Rules for the Direction of the Understanding;” which, though logical in its subject, takes most of its illustrations from mathematics. The other is a dialogue, left imperfect, in which he sustains the metaphysical principles of his philosophy. Of these two little tracts, their editor has said, that “they equal in vigour and perhaps surpass in arrangement the Meditations and Discourse on Method. We see in these more unequivocally the main object of Descartes, and the spirit of the revolution which has created modern philosophy, and placed in the understanding itself the principle of all certainty, the point of departure for all legitimate inquiry. They might seem written but yesterday, and for the present age.” Vol. xi. preface, p. 1. I may add to this, that I consider the Rules for the direction of the Understanding as one of the best works on logic (in the enlarged sense) which I have ever read; more practically useful, perhaps, to young students than the Novum Organum; and though, as I have said, his illustrations are chiefly mathematical, most of his rules are applicable to the general discipline of the reasoning powers. It occupies little more than one hundred pages, and I think that I am doing a service in recommending it. Many of the rules will, of course, be found in later books; some possibly in earlier. This tract, as well as the dialogue which follows it, is incomplete, a portion being probably lost.

[255] Si quelqu’un de cette humeur vouloit entreprendre d’écrire l’histoire des apparences célestes selon la méthode de Verulamius. Vol. vi., p. 210.

[256] Vol. xi., p. 255.

Merits of his writings. 107. It would occupy too much space to point out the many profound and striking thoughts which this treatise on the conduct of the understanding, and indeed most of the writings of Descartes contain. “The greater part of the questions on which the learned dispute are but questions of words. These occur so frequently that, if philosophers would agree on the signification of [Pg 503] their words, scarce any of their controversies would remain.” This has been continually said since; but it is a proof of some progress in wisdom, when the original thought of one age becomes the truism of the next. No one had been so much on his guard against the equivocation of words, or knew so well their relation to the operations of the mind. And it may be said, generally, though not without exception of the metaphysical writings of Descartes, that we find in them a perspicuity which springs from his unremitting attention to the logical process of inquiry, admitting no doubtful or ambiguous position, and never requiring from his reader a deference to any authority but that of demonstration. It is a great advantage in reading such writers that we are able to discern when they are manifestly in the wrong. The sophisms of Plato, of Aristotle, of the schoolmen, and of a great many recent metaphysicians, are disguised by their obscurity; and while they creep insidiously into the mind of the reader, are always denied and explained away by partial disciples.

His notions of free will. 108. Stewart has praised Descartes for having recourse to the evidence of consciousness in order to prove the liberty of the will. But he omits to tell us that the notions entertained by this philosopher were not such as have been generally thought compatible with free agency in the only sense that admits of controversy. It was an essential part of the theory of Descartes that God is the cause of all human actions. “Before God sent us into the world,” he says in a letter, “he knew exactly what all the inclinations of our will would be; it is he that has implanted them in us; it is he also that has disposed all other things, so that such or such objects should present themselves to us at such or such times, by means of which he has known that our free will would determine us to such or such actions, and he has willed that it should be so; but he has not willed to compel us thereto.”[257] “We could not demonstrate,” he says at another time, “that God exists, except by considering him as a being absolutely perfect; and he could not be absolutely perfect, if there could happen anything in the world which did not spring entirely from him.... Mere philosophy is enough to make us know that there cannot enter the least thought into the mind of man, but God must will and have willed from all eternity that it should enter there.”[258] This is in a letter to his highly intelligent friend, the princess Palatine Elizabeth, granddaughter of James I.; and he proceeds to declare himself strongly in favour of predestination, denying wholly any particular providence, to which she had alluded, as changing the decrees of God, and all efficacy of prayer, except as one link in the chain of his determinations. Descartes, therefore, whatever some of his disciples may have become, was far enough from an Arminian theology. “As to free will,” he says elsewhere, “I own that thinking only of ourselves we cannot but reckon it independent, but when we think of the infinite power of God we cannot but believe that all things depend on him, and that consequently our free will must do so too.... But since our knowledge of the existence of God should not hinder us from being assured of our free will, because we feel and are conscious of it in ourselves, so that if our free will should not make us doubt of the existence of God. For the independence which we experience and feel in ourselves, and which is sufficient to make our actions praiseworthy or blameable, is not incompatible with a dependence of another nature, according to which all things are subject to God.”[259]

[257] Vol. ix., p. 374.

[258] Id. p. 246.

[259] Vol. ix., p. 368. This had originally been stated in the Principia with less confidence, the free will of man and predetermination of God being both asserted as true, but their co-existence incomprehensible. Vol. iii., p. 86.

Fame of his system and attacks upon it. 109. A system so novel, so attractive to the imagination by its bold and brilliant paradoxes as that of Descartes, could not but excite the attention of an age already roused to the desire of a new philosophy, and to the scorn of ancient authority. His first treatises appeared in French; and, though he afterwards employed Latin, his works were very soon translated by his disciples, and under his own care. He wrote in Latin with great perspicuity; in French with liveliness and elegance. His mathematical and optical writings gave him a reputation which envy could not take away, and secured his philosophy from that general ridicule which sometimes overwhelms an obscure author. His very enemies, numerous and vehement as they were, served to enhance the celebrity of the Cartesian system, which he seems to have anticipated by publishing their objections to his Meditations with his own replies. In the universities, bigoted for the most part to Aristotelian authority, he had no chance of public reception; but the influence of the universities was much diminished [Pg 504] in France, and a new theory had perhaps better chances in its favour on account of their opposition. But the Jesuits, a more powerful body, were in general adverse to the Cartesian system, and especially some time afterwards, when it was supposed to have the countenance of several leading Jansenists. The Epicurean school, led by Gassendi and Hobbes, presented a formidable phalanx; since it in fact comprehended the wits of the world, the men of indolence and sensuality, quick to discern the many weaknesses of Cartesianism, with no capacity for its excellencies. It is unnecessary to say, how predominant this class was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, both in France and England.

Controversy with Voet. 110. Descartes was evidently in considerable alarm lest the church should bear with its weight upon his philosophy.[260] He had the censure on Galileo before his eyes, and certainly used some chicane of words as to the earth’s movement upon this account. It was, however, in the Protestant country, which he had chosen as his harbour of refuge, that he was doomed to encounter the roughest storm. Gisbert Voet, an eminent theologian in the university of Utrecht, and the head of the party in the church of Holland, which had been victorious in the synod of Dort, attacked Descartes with all the virulence and bigotry characteristic of his school of divinity. The famous demonstration of the being of God he asserted to be a cover for atheism, and thus excited a flame of controversy, Descartes being not without supporters in the university, especially Regius, professor of medicine. The philosopher was induced by these assaults to change his residence from a town in the province of Utrecht to Leyden. Voet did not cease to pursue him with outrageous calumny, and succeeded in obtaining decrees of the senate and university, which interdicted Regius from teaching that “new and unproved (præsumpta) philosophy” to his pupils. The war of libels on the Voetian side did not cease for some years, and Descartes replied with no small acrimony against Voet himself. The latter had recourse to the civil power, and instituted a prosecution against Descartes, which was quashed by the interference of the prince of Orange. But many in the university of Leyden, under the influence of a notable theologian of that age, named Triglandius, one of the stoutest champions of Dutch orthodoxy, raised a cry against the Cartesian philosophy as being favourable to Pelagianism and popery, the worst names that could be given in Holland; and it was again through the protection of the prince of Orange that he escaped a public censure. Regius, the most zealous of his original advocates, began to swerve from the fidelity of a sworn disciple, and published a book containing some theories of his own, which Descartes thought himself obliged to disavow. Ultimately he found, like many benefactors of mankind, that he had purchased reputation at the cost of peace; and, after some visits to France, where, probably from the same cause, he never designed to settle, found an honourable asylum and a premature death at the court of Christina. He died in 1651, having worked a more important change in speculative philosophy than any who had preceded him since the revival of learning; for there could be no comparison, in that age, between the celebrity and effect of his writings and those of Lord Bacon. The latter had few avowed enemies, till it was too late to avow enmity.[261]

[260] On a tellement assujetti la théologie à Aristotle, qu’il est impossible d’expliquer une autre philosophie qu’il ne semble d’abord qu’elle soit contre la foi. Et à propos de ceci, je vous prie de me mander s’il n’y a rien de déterminé en la foi touchant l’étendue du monde: savoir s’il est fini ou plutôt infini, et si tout ce qu’on appelle espaces imaginaires soient des corps créés et véritables. Vol. vi., p. 73.

[261] The life of Descartes was written, very fully and with the warmth of a disciple, by Baillet, in two volumes quarto, 1691, of which he afterwards published an abridgment. In this we find at length the attacks made on him by the Voetian theologians. Brucker has given a long and valuable account of the Cartesian philosophy, but not favourable, and perhaps not quite fair. Vol. v., p. 200-334. Buhle is, as usual, much inferior to Brucker. But those who omit the mathematical portion will not find the original works of Descartes very long, and they are well worthy of being read.

Charges of plagiarism. 111. The prejudice against Descartes, especially in his own country, was aggravated by his indiscreet and not very warrantable assumption of perfect originality.[262] No one, [Pg 505] I think, can fairly refuse to own, that the Cartesian metaphysics, taken in their consecutive arrangement, form truly an original system; and it would be equally unjust to deny the splendid discoveries he developed in algebra and optics. But upon every one subject which Descartes treated, he has not escaped the charge of plagiarism; professing always to be ignorant of what had been done by others, he falls perpetually into their track; more, as his adversaries maintained, than the chances of coincidence could fairly explain. Leibnitz has summed up the claims of earlier writers to the pretended discoveries of Descartes; and certainly it is a pretty long bill to be presented to any author. I shall insert this passage in a note, though much of it has no reference to this portion of the Cartesian philosophy.[263] It may perhaps be thought by candid minds, that we cannot apply the doctrine of chances to coincidence of reasoning in men of acute and inquisitive spirits, as fairly as we may to that of style or imagery; but, if we hold strictly that the older writer may claim the exclusive praise of the philosophical discovery, we must regret to see such a multitude of feathers plucked from the wing of an eagle.

[262] I confess, he says in his logic, that I was born with such a temper, that the chief pleasure I find in study is not from the learning the arguments of others, but by inventing my own. This disposition alone impelled me in youth to the study of science; hence, whenever a new book promised by its title some new discovery, before sitting down to read it, I used to try whether my own natural sagacity could lead me to anything of the kind, and I took care not to lose this innocent pleasure by too hasty a perusal. This answered so often that I at length perceived that I arrived at truth, not as other men do after blind and precarious guesses, by good luck rather than skill, but that long experience had taught me certain fixed rules, which were of surprising utility, and of which I afterwards made use to discover more truths. Vol. xi., p. 252.

[263] Dogmata ejus metaphysica, velut circa ideas a sensibus remotas, et animæ distinctionem a corpore, et fluxam per se rerum materialium fidem, prorsus Platonica sunt. Argumentum pro existentia Dei, ex eo, quod ens perfectissimum, vel quo majus intelligi non potest, existentiam includit, fuit Anselmi, et in libro “Contra insipientem” inscripto extat inter ejus opera, passimque a scholasticis examinatur. In doctrina de continuo, pleno et loco Aristotelem noster secutus est, Stoicosque in re morali penitus expressit, floriferis ut apes in saltibus omnia libant. In explicatione rerum mechina Leucippum et Democritum præeuntes habuit, qui et vortices ipsos jam docuerant. Jordanus Brunus easdem fere de magnitudine universi ideas habuisse dicitur, quemadmodum et notavit V. CC. Stephanus Spleissius, ut de Gilberto nil dicam, cujus magneticæ considerationes tum per se, tum ad systema universi applicatæ, Cartesio plurimum profuerunt. Explicationem gravitatis per materiæ solidioris rejectionem in tangente, quod in physica Cartesiana prope pulcherrimum est, didicit ex Keplero, qui similitudine palearum motu aquæ in vase gyrantis ad centrum contrusarum rem explicuit primus. Actionem lucis in distans, similitudine baculi pressi jam veteres adumbravere. Circa iridem a M. Antonio de Dominis non parum lucis accepit. Keplerum fuisse primum suum in dioptricis magistrum, et in eo argumento omnes ante se mortales longo intervallo antegressum, fatetur Cartesius in epistolis familiaribus; nam in scriptis, quæ ipse edidit, longè abest a tali confessione aut laude, tametsi illa ratio, quæ rationum dictionem explicat, et compositione nimirum duplicis conatûs perpendicularis ad superficiem et ad eandem paralleli, disertè apud Keplerum extet, qui eodem, ut Cartesius, modo æqualitatem angulorum incidentiæ et reflexionis hinc deducit. Idque gratam mentionem ideo merebatur, quod omnis prope Cartesii ratiocinatio huic innititur principio. Legem refractionis primum invenisse Willebroodum Snellium, Isaacus Vossius patefecit, quanquam non ideo negare ausim, Cartesium in eadem incidere potuisse de suo. Negavit in epistolis Vietam sibi lectum, sed Thomæ Harrioti Angli libros analyticos posthumos anno 1631 editos vidisse multi vix dubitant; usque adeo magnus est eorum consensus cum calculo geometriæ Cartesianæ. Sane jam Harriotus æquationem nihilo æqualem posuit, et hinc derivavit, quomodo oriatur æquatio ex multiplicatione radicum in se invicem, et quomodo radiorum auctione, diminutione, multiplicatione aut divisione variari æquatio possit, et quomodo proinde natura, et constitutio æquationem et radicum cognosci possit ex terminorum habitudine. Itaque narrat celeberrimus Wallisius, Robervalium, qui miratus erat, unde Cartesio in mentem venisset palmarium illud, æquationem ponere æqualem nihilo ad instar unius quantitatis, ostenso sibi a Domino de Cavendish libro Harrioti exclamasse, il l’a vu! il l’a vu! vidit, vidit. Reductionem quadratoquadratæ æquationis ad cubicam superiori jam sæculo invenit Ludovicus Ferrarius, cujus vitam reliquit Cardanus ejus familiaris. Denique fuit Cartesius, ut a viris doctis dudum notatum est, et ex epistolis nimium apparet, immodicus contemptor aliorum, et famæ cupiditate ab artificiis non abstinens, quæ parum generosa videri possunt. Atque hæc profecto non dico animo obtrectandi viro, quem mirificè æstimo, sed eo consilio, ut cuique suum tribuatur, nec unus omnium laudes absorbeat; justissimum enim est, ut inventoribus suus honos constet, nec sublatis virtutum præmiis præclara faciendi studium refrigescat. Leibnitz, apud Brucker, v. 255.

Recent increase of his fame. 112. The name of Descartes as a great metaphysical writer has revived in some measure of late years; and this has been chiefly owing, among ourselves, to Dugald Stewart; in France, to the growing disposition of their philosophers to cast away their idols of the eighteenth century. “I am disposed,” says our Scottish philosopher, “to date the origin of the true philosophy of mind from the Principia (why not the earlier works?) of Descartes, rather than [Pg 506] from the Organum of Bacon, or the Essays of Locke; without, however, meaning to compare the French author with our two countrymen, either as a contributor to our stock of facts relating to the intellectual phænomena, or as the author of any important conclusion concerning the general laws to which they may be referred.” The excellent edition by M. Cousin, in which alone the entire works of Descartes can be found, is a homage that France has recently offered to his memory, and an important contribution to the studious both of metaphysical and mathematical philosophy. I have made use of no other, though it might be desirable for the inquirer to have the Latin original at his side, especially in those works which have not been seen in French by their author.

Sect. IV.

On the Metaphysical Philosophy of Hobbes.

Metaphysical treatise of Hobbes. 113. The metaphysical philosophy of Hobbes was promulgated in his treatise on Human Nature, which appeared in 1650. This, with his other works, De Cive, and De Corpore Politico, were fused into that great and general system, which he published in 1651 with the title of Leviathan. The first part of the Leviathan, “Of Man,” follows the several chapters of the treatise on Human Nature with much regularity; but so numerous are the enlargements or omissions, so great is the variance with which the author has expressed the same positions, that they should much rather be considered as two works, than as two editions of the same. They differ more than Lord Bacon’s treatise, De Augmentis Scientiarum, does from his Advancement of Learning. I shall, however, blend the two in a single analysis, and this I shall generally give, as far as is possible, consistently with my own limits, in the very words of Hobbes. His language is so lucid and concise, that it would be almost as improper to put an algebraical process in different terms as some of his metaphysical paragraphs. But, as a certain degree of abridgment cannot be dispensed with, the reader must not take it for granted, even where inverted commas denote a closer attention to the text, that nothing is omitted, although, in such cases, I never hold it permissible to make any change.

His theory of sensation. 114. All single thoughts, it is the primary tenet of Hobbes, are representations or appearances of some quality of a body without us, which is commonly called an object. “There is no conception in a man’s mind, which hath not at first totally, or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense. The rest are derived from that original.”[264] In the treatise on Human Nature he dwells long on the immediate causes of sensation; and if no alteration had been made in his manuscript since he wrote his dedication to the Earl of Newcastle in 1640, he must be owned to have anticipated Descartes in one of his most celebrated doctrines. |Coincident with Descartes.| “Because the image in vision, consisting in colour and shape, is the knowledge we have of the qualities of the object of that sense, it is no hard matter for a man to fall into this opinion, that the same colour and shape are the very qualities themselves; and for the same, cause, that sound and noise are the qualities of the bell, or of the air. And this opinion hath been so long received, that the contrary must needs appear a great paradox; and yet the introduction of species visible and intelligible (which is necessary for the maintenance of that opinion), passing to and fro from the object, is worse than any paradox, as being a plain impossibility. I shall, therefore, endeavour to make plain these points: 1. That the subject wherein colour and image are inherent, is not the object or thing seen. 2. That there is nothing without us (really) which we call an image or colour. 3. That the said image or colour is but an apposition unto us of the motion, agitation, or alteration, which the object worketh in the brain, or spirits, or some external substance of the head. 4. That, as in vision, so also in conceptions that arise from the other senses, the subject of their inherence is not the object, but the sentiment.”[265] And this he goes on to prove. Nothing of this will be found in the Discours sur la Méthode, the only work of Descartes then published; and, even if we believe Hobbes to have interpolated this chapter after he had read the Meditations, he has stated the principle so clearly and illustrated it so copiously, that, so far especially as Locke and the English metaphysicians took it up, we may almost reckon him another original source.

[264] Leviathan, c. 1.

[265] Hum. Nat., c. 2.

Imagination and memory. 115. The second chapter of the Leviathan, “On Imagination,” begins with one of those acute and original observations we often find in Hobbes: “That when a thing lies still, unless somewhat else stir it, it will lie still for ever, is a truth that no man [Pg 507] doubts of. But that when a thing is in motion, it will eternally be in motion, unless somewhat stay it, though the reason be the same, namely, that nothing can change itself, is not so easily assented to. For men measure, not only other men, but all other things, by themselves; and because they find themselves subject after motion to pain and lassitude, think everything else grows weary of motion and seeks repose of its own accord.” The physical principle had lately been established, but the reason here given for the contrary prejudice, though not the sole one, is ingenious and even true. Imagination he defines to be “conception remaining, and by little and little decaying after the act of sense.”[266] This he afterwards expressed less happily, “the gradual decline of the motion in which sense consists;” his phraseology becoming more and more tinctured with the materialism he affected in all his philosophy. Neither definition seems at all applicable to the imagination which calls up long past perceptions. “This decaying sense, when we would express the thing itself (I mean fancy itself), we call imagination, but when we would express the decay, and signify that the sense is fading, old and past, it is called memory. So that, imagination and memory are but one thing, which for divers considerations hath divers names.”[267] It is, however, evident that imagination and memory are distinguished by something more than their names. The second fundamental error of Hobbes in his metaphysics, his extravagant nominalism, if so it should be called, appears in this sentence, as the first, his materialism, does in that previously quoted.

[266] Hum. Nat., c. 3.

[267] Lev., c. 2.

116. The phænomena of dreaming and the phantasms of waking men are considered in this chapter with the keen observation and cool reason of Hobbes.[268] I am not sure that he has gone more profoundly into psychological speculations in the Leviathan than in the earlier treatise; but it bears witness more frequently to what had probably been the growth of the intervening period, a proneness to political and religious allusion, to magnify civil and to depreciate ecclesiastical power. “If this superstitious fear of spirits were taken away, and with its prognostics from dreams, false prophecies, and many other things depending thereon, by which crafty and ambitious persons abuse the simple people, men would be much more fitted than they are for civil obedience. And this ought to be the work of the schools; but they rather nourish such doctrine.”[269]

[268] Hum. Nat., c. 3.

[269] Id. ibid.

Discourse or train of imagination. 117. The fourth chapter on Human Nature, and the corresponding third chapter of the Leviathan, entitled On Discourse, or the Consequence and Train of Imagination, are among the most remarkable in Hobbes, as they contain the elements of that theory of association, which was slightly touched afterwards by Locke, but developed and pushed to a far greater extent by Hartley. “The cause,” he says, “of the coherence or consequence of one conception to another is their first coherence or consequence at that time when they are produced by sense: As, for instance, from St. Andrew the mind runneth to St. Peter, because their names are read together; from St. Peter to a stone, from the same cause; from stone to foundation, because we see them together; and for the same cause from foundation to church, and from church to people, and from people to tumult; and, according to this example, the mind may run almost from anything to anything.”[270] This he illustrates in the Leviathan by the well-known question suddenly put by one, in conversation about the death of Charles I., “What was the value of a Roman penny?” Of this discourse, as he calls it, in a larger sense of the word than is usual with the logicians, he mentions several kinds; and after observing that the remembrance of succession of one thing to another, that is, of what was antecedent and what consequent and what concomitant, is called an experiment, adds that “to have had many experiments, is what we call experience, which is nothing else but remembrance of what antecedents have been followed by what consequents.”[271]

[270] Hum. Nat. c. 4, § 2.

[271] Id.

Experience. 118. “No man can have a conception of the future, for the future is not yet, but of our conceptions of the past we make a future, or rather call past future relatively.”[272] And again: “The present only has a being in nature; things past have a being in the memory only; but things to come have no being at all; the future being but a fiction of the mind, applying the sequels of actions past to the actions that are present, which with most certainty is done by him that has most experience, but not with certainty enough. And though it be called prudence, when the event answereth our expectation, yet in its own nature it is but presumption.”[273] [Pg 508] “When we have observed antecedents and consequents frequently associated, we take one for a sign of the other, as clouds foretell rain, and rain is a sign there have been clouds. But signs are but conjectural, and their assurance is never full or evident. For though a man have always seen the day and night to follow one another hitherto, yet can he not thence conclude they shall do so, or that they have done so, eternally. Experience concludeth nothing universally. But those who have most experience conjecture best, because they have most signs to conjecture by; hence, old men, cæteris paribus, and men of quick parts, conjecture better than the young or dull.”[274] “But experience is not to be equalled by any advantage of natural and extemporary wit, though perhaps many young men think the contrary.” There is a presumption of the past as well as the future founded on experience, as when from having often seen ashes after fire, we infer from seeing them again that there has been fire. But this is as conjectural as our expectations of the future.[275]

[272] Human Nat. c. 4, § 7.

[273] Lev., c. 3.

[274] Hum. Nat.

[275] Lev.

Unconceivable-ness of infinity. 119. In the last paragraph of the chapter in the Leviathan, he adds, what is a very leading principle in the philosophy of Hobbes, but seems to have no particular relation to what has preceded. “Whatsoever we imagine is finite; therefore, there is no idea or conception of anything we call infinite. No man can have in his mind an image of infinite magnitude, nor conceive infinite swiftness, infinite time, or infinite force, or infinite power. When we say anything is infinite, we signify only that we are not able to conceive the ends and bounds of the things named, having no conception of the thing, but of our own inability. And therefore the name of God is used, not to make us conceive him, for he is incomprehensible and his greatness and power are inconceivable, but that we may honour him. Also, because whatsoever, as I said before, we conceive, has been perceived first by sense, either all at once, or by parts; a man can have no thought, representing anything, not subject to sense. No man therefore can conceive anything, but he must conceive it in some place, and indeed with some determinate magnitude, and which may be divided into parts, nor that anything is all in this place, and all in another place at the same time, nor that two or more things can be in one and the same place at once. For none of these things ever have, or can be incident to sense, but are absurd speeches, taken upon credit without any signification at all, from deceived philosophers, and deceived or deceiving schoolmen.” This, we have seen in the last section, had been already discussed with Descartes. The paralogism of Hobbes consists in his imposing a limited sense on the word idea or conception, and assuming that what cannot be conceived according to that sense has no signification at all.

Origin of language. 120. The next chapter, being the fifth in one treatise, and the fourth in the other, may be reckoned, perhaps, the most valuable as well as original, in the writings of Hobbes. It relates to speech and language. “The invention of printing,” he begins by observing, “though ingenious, compared with the invention of letters, is no great matter.... But the most noble and profitable invention of all others, was that of speech, consisting of names or appellations, and their connection, whereby men register their thoughts, recall them when they are past, and also declare them one to another for mutual utility and conversation; without which there had been amongst men neither commonwealth, nor society, nor content nor peace, no more than among lions, bears, and wolves. The first author of speech was God himself, that instructed Adam how to name such creatures as he presented to his sight; for the Scripture goeth no further in this matter. But this was sufficient to direct him to add more names, as the experience and use of the creatures should give him occasion, and to join them in such manner by degrees, as to make himself understood; and so by succession of time so much language might be gotten as he had found use for, though not so copious as an orator or philosopher has need of.”[276]

[276] Leviathan, c. 4.

His political theory interferes. 121. This account of the original of language appears in general as probable as it is succinct and clear. But the assumption that there could have been no society or mutual peace among mankind without language, the ordinary instrument of contract, is too much founded upon his own political speculations. Nor is it proved by the comparison to lions, bears, and wolves, even if the analogy could be admitted; since the state of warfare which he here intimates to be natural to man, does not commonly subsist in these wild animals of the same species. Sævis inter se convenit [Pg 509] ursis, is an old remark. But taking mankind with as much propensity to violence towards each other as Hobbes could suggest, is it speech, or reason and the sense of self-interest, which has restrained this within the boundaries imposed on it by civil society? The position appears to be, that man, with every other faculty and attribute of his nature, except language, could never have lived in community with his fellows. It is manifest, that the mechanism of such a community would have been very imperfect. But possessing his rational powers, it is hard to see why he might not have devised signs to make known his special wants, or why he might not have attained the peculiar prerogative of his species and foundation of society, the exchange of what he liked less for what he liked better.

Necessity of speech exaggerated. 122. This will appear more evident, and the exaggerated notions of the school of Hobbes as to the absolute necessity of language to the mutual relations of mankind will be checked by considering what was not so well understood in his age as at present, the intellectual capacities of those who are born deaf, and the resources which they are able to employ. It can hardly be questioned, but that a number of families thrown together in this unfortunate situation, without other intercourse, could by the exercise of their natural reason, as well as the domestic and social affections, constitute themselves into a sort of commonwealth, at least as regular as that of ants and bees; and if the want of language would deprive them of many advantages of polity, it would also secure them from much fraud and conspiracy. But those whom we have known to want the use of speech, have also wanted the sense of hearing, and have thus been shut out from many assistances to the reasoning faculties, which our hypothesis need not exclude. The fair supposition is that of a number of persons merely dumb, and although they would not have laws or learning, it does not seem impossible they might maintain at least a patriarchal, if not a political, society for many generations. Upon the lowest supposition, they could not be inferior to the Chimpanzees, who are said to live in communities in the forests of Angola.

Use of names. 123. The succession of conceptions in the mind depending wholly on that they had one to another when produced by the senses, they cannot be recalled at our choice and the need we have of them, “but as it chanceth us to hear and see such things as shall bring them to our mind. Hence, brutes are unable to call what they want to mind, and often, though they hide food, do not know where to find it. But man has the power to set up marks or sensible objects, and remember thereby somewhat past. The most eminent of these are names of articulate sounds, by which we recall some conception of things to which we give those names; as the appellation white bringeth to remembrance the quality of such objects as produce that colour or conception in us. It is by names that we are capable of science, as for instance that of number: for beasts cannot number for want of words, and do not miss one or two out of their young, nor could a man without repeating orally or mentally the words of number, know how many pieces of money may be before him.”[277] We have here another assumption, that the numbering faculty is not stronger in man than in brutes, and also that the former could not have found out how to divide a heap of coins into parcels without the use of words of number. The experiment might be tried with a deaf and dumb child.

[277] Hum. Nat., c. 5.

Names universal not realities. 124. Of names some are proper, and some common to many or universal, there being nothing in the world universal but names, for the things named are every one of them individual and singular. “One universal name is imposed on many things for their similitude in some quality or other accidents; and whereas a proper name bringeth to mind one thing only, universals recall any one of those many.”[278] “The universality of one name to many things hath been the cause that men think the things are themselves universal, and so seriously contend that besides Peter and John, and all the rest of the men that are, have been, or shall be in the world, there is yet something else that we call man—viz., man in general, deceiving themselves by taking the universal or general appellation for the thing it signifieth.[279] For if one should desire [Pg 510] the painter to make him the picture of a man, which is as much as to say, of a man in general, he meaneth no more, but that the painter should chuse what man he pleaseth to draw, which must needs be some of them that are, or have been, or may be, none of which are universal. But when he would have him to draw the picture of the king, or any particular person, he limiteth the painter to that one person he chuseth. It is plain, therefore, that there is nothing universal but names, which are therefore called indefinite.”[280]

[278] Lev. c. 4.

[279] “An universal,” he says in his Logic, “is not a name of many things collectively, but of each taken separately (sigillatim sumptorum). Man is not the name of the human species, in general, but of each single man, Peter, John and the rest, separately. Therefore, this universal name is not the name of any thing existing in nature, nor of any idea or phantasm formed in the mind, but always of some word or name. Thus, when an animal, or a stone, or a ghost (spectrum) or anything else is called universal, we are not to understand that any man or stone or anything else was, or is, or can be an universal, but only that these words animal, stone, and the like are universal names, that is, names common to many things, and the conceptions corresponding to them in the mind are the images and phantasms of single animals or other things. And therefore we do not need, in order to understand what is meant by an universal, any other faculty than that of imagination, by which we remember that such words have excited the conception in our minds sometimes of one particular thing, sometimes of another.” Cap. 2, § 9. Imagination and memory are used by Hobbes almost as synonyms.

[280] Hum. Nat., c. 5.

How imposed. 125. “By this imposition of names, some of larger, some of stricter signification, we turn the reckoning of the consequences of things imagined in the mind into a reckoning of the consequences of appellations.”[281] Hence he thinks that though a man born deaf and dumb might by meditation know that the angles of one triangle are equal to two right ones, he could not, on seeing another triangle of different shape, infer the same without a similar process. But by the help of words, after having observed the equality is not consequent on anything peculiar to one triangle, but on the number of sides and angles which is common to all, he registers his discovery in a proposition. This is surely to confound the antecedent process of reasoning with what he calls the registry, which follows it. The instance, however, is not happily chosen, and Hobbes has conceded the whole point in question, by admitting that the truth of the proposition could be observed, which cannot require the use of words.[282] He expresses the next sentence with more felicity, “And thus the consequence found in one particular comes to be registered and remembered as an universal rule, and discharges our mental reckoning of time and place; and delivers us from all labour of the mind saving the first, and makes that which was found true here and now to be true in all times and places.”[283]

[281] It may deserve to be remarked that Hobbes himself, nominalist as he was, did not limit reasoning to comparison of proposition, as some later writers have been inclined to do, and as in his objections to Descartes, he might seem to do himself. This may be inferred from the sentence quoted in the text, and more expressly, though not quite perspicuously, from a passage in the Computatio, sive Logica, his Latin treatise published after the Leviathan. Quomodo autem animo sine verbis tacita cogitatione ratiocinando addere et subtrahere solemus uno aut altero exemplo ostendendum est. Si quis ergo e longinquo aliquid obscurè videat, etsi nulla sint imposita vocabula, habet tamen ejus rei ideam eandem propter quam impositis nunc vocabulis dicit eam rem esse corpus. Postquam autem propius accesserit, videritque eandem rem certo quodam modo nunc uno, nunc alio in loco esse, habebit ejusdem ideam novam, propter quam nunc talem rem animatam vocat, &c., p. 2.

[282] The demonstration of the thirty-second proposition of Euclid could leave no one in doubt whether this property were common to all triangles, after it had been proved in a single instance. It is said, however, to be recorded by an ancient writer, that this discovery was first made as to equilateral, afterwards as to isosceles, and lastly as to other triangles. Stewart’s philosophy of Human Mind, vol. ii., chap., iv., sect. 2 The mode of proof must have been different from that of Euclid. And this might possibly lead us to suspect the truth of the tradition. For if the equality of the angles of a triangle to two right angles admitted of any elementary demonstration, such as might occur in the infancy of geometry, without making use of the property of parallel lines, assumed in the twelfth axiom of Euclid, the difficulties consequent on that assumption would readily be evaded. See the Note on Euclid, i. 29. in Playfair, who has given a demonstration of his own, but one which involves the idea of motion rather more than was usual with the Greeks in their elementary propositions.

[283] Lev.

The subject continued. 126. The equivocal use of names makes it often difficult to recover those conceptions for which they were designed “not only in the language of others, wherein we are to consider the drift and occasion and contexture of the speech, as well as the words themselves, but in our own discourse, which, being derived from the custom and common use of speech, representeth unto us not our own conceptions. It is, therefore, a great ability in a man, out of the words, contexture and other circumstances of language to deliver himself from equivocation, and to find out the true meaning of what is said; and this is it we call understanding.”[284] If speech be peculiar to man, as for aught I know it is, then is understanding peculiar to him also; understanding [Pg 511] being nothing else but conception caused by speech.”[285] This definition is arbitrary and not conformable to the usual sense. “True and false,” he observes afterwards, “are attributes of speech not of things; where speech is not, there is neither truth nor falsehood, though there may be error. Hence, as truth consists in the right ordering of names in our affirmations, a man that seeks precise truth hath need to remember what every word he uses stands for and place it accordingly. In geometry, the only science hitherto known, men begin by definitions. And every man who aspires to true knowledge, should examine the definitions of former authors, and either correct them or make them anew. For the errors of definitions multiply themselves, according as the reckoning proceeds, and lead men into absurdities, which at last they see, but cannot avoid without reckoning anew from the beginning in which lies the foundation of their errors.... In the right definition of names, lies the first use of speech, which is the acquisition of science. And in wrong or no definitions lies the first abuse from which proceed all false and senseless tenets, which make those men that take their instruction from the authority of books, and not from their own meditation, to be as much below the condition of ignorant men, as men endued with true science are above it. For between true science and erroneous doctrine, ignorance is in the middle. Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools.”[286]

[284] Hum. Nat.

[285] Lev.

[286] Lev.

Names differently imposed. 127. “The names of such things as affect us, that is, which please and displease us, because all men be not alike affected with the same thing, nor the same man at all times, are in the common discourse of men of inconstant signification. For seeing all names are imposed to signify our conceptions, and all our affections are but conceptions, when we conceive the same thoughts differently, we can hardly avoid different naming of them. For though the nature of that we conceive be the same, yet the diversity of our reception of it, in respect of different constitutions of body and prejudices of opinion, gives everything a tincture of our different passions. And therefore, in reasoning, a man must take heed of words, which, besides the signification of what we imagine of their nature, have a signification also of the nature, disposition and interest of the speaker; such as are the names of virtues and vices; for one man calleth wisdom what another calleth fear, and one cruelty, what another justice; one prodigality, what another magnanimity, and one gravity what another stupidity, &c. And therefore such names can never be true grounds of any ratiocination. No more can metaphors and tropes of speech, but these are less dangerous, because they profess their inconstancy, which the other do not.”[287] Thus ends this chapter of the Leviathan, which, with the corresponding one in the Treatise of Human Nature, are, notwithstanding what appear to be some erroneous principles, as full, perhaps, of deep and original thoughts as any other pages of equal length on the art of reasoning and philosophy of language. Many have borrowed from Hobbes without naming him; and in fact he is the founder of the nominalist school in England. He may probably have conversed with Bacon on these subjects; we see much of that master’s style of illustration. But as Bacon was sometimes too excursive to sift particulars, so Hobbes has sometimes wanted a comprehensive view.

[287] Lev.

Knowledge. 128. “There are,” to proceed with Hobbes, “two kinds of knowledge; the one, sense, or knowledge original, and remembrance of the same; the other, science, or knowledge of the truth of propositions, derived from understanding. Both are but experience, one of things from without, the other from the proper use of words in language, and experience being but remembrance, all knowledge is remembrance. Knowledge implies two things, truth and evidence; the latter is the concomitance of a man’s conception with the words that signify such conception in the act of ratiocination.” If a man does not annex a meaning to his words, his conclusions are not evident to him. “Evidence is to truth, as the sap to the tree, which, so far as it creepeth along with the body and branches, keepeth them alive; when it forsaketh them they die; for this evidence, which is meaning with our words, is the life of truth.” “Science is evidence of truth, from some beginning or principle of sense. The first principle of knowledge is that we have such and such conceptions; the second that we have thus and thus named the things whereof they are conceptions; the third is that we have joined those names in such manner as to make true propositions; the fourth and last is that we have joined these propositions in such a manner as they be concluding, and the truth of the conclusion said to be known.”[288]

[288] Hum. Nat., c. 6.

[Pg 512]Reasoning. 129. Reasoning is the addition or subtraction of parcels. “In whatever matter there is room for addition and subtraction, there is room for reason; and where these have no place, then reason has nothing at all to do.”[289] This is neither as perspicuously expressed, nor as satisfactorily illustrated, as is usual with Hobbes; but it is true that all syllogistic reasoning is dependent upon quantity alone, and consequently upon that which is capable of addition and subtraction. This seems not to have been clearly perceived by some writers of the old Aristotelian school, or perhaps by some others, who, as far as I can judge, have a notion that the relation of a genus to a species, or a predicate to its subject, considered merely as to syllogism or deductive reasoning, is something different from that of a whole to its parts; which would deprive that logic of its chief boast, axiomatic evidence. But, as this would appear too dry to some readers, I shall pursue it farther in a note.[290]

[289] Lev. c. 5.

[290] Dugald Stewart (Elements of Philosophy, &c. vol. ii., ch. ii., sect. 2) has treated this theory of Hobbes on reasoning, as well as that of Condillac, which seems much the same, with great scorn, as “too puerile to admit of (i.e. require) refutation.” I do not myself think the language of Hobbes either here, or as quoted by Stewart from his Latin treatise on Logic, so perspicuous as usual. But I cannot help being of opinion that he is substantially right. For surely, when we assert that A is B, we assert that all things which fall under the class B, taken collectively, comprehend A, or that B = A + X: B being here put, it is to be observed, not for the res prædicata itself, but for the concrete, de quibus prædicandum est. I mention this, because this elliptical use of the word predicate seems to have occasioned some confusion in writers on logic. The predicate strictly taken, being an attribute or quality, cannot be said to include or contain the subject. But to return, when we say B = A + X, or B - X = A, since we do not compare, in such a proposition, as is here supposed, A with X, we only mean that A = A, or that a certain part of B is the same as itself. Again, in a particular affirmative, Some A is B, we assert that part of A, or A - Y is contained in B, or that B may be expressed by [A - Y] + X. So also when we say, Some A is not B, we equally divide the class or genus B into A - Y and X, or assert that B = [A - Y] + X; but, in this case, the subject is no longer A - Y, but the remainder, or other part of A, namely, Y; and this is not found in either term of the predicate. Finally, in the universal negative, No A (neither [A - Y] nor Y) is B, the [A - Y] of the predicate vanishes or has no value, and B becomes equal to X, which is incapable of measurement with A, and consequently with either A - Y or Y, which make up A. Now if we combine this with another proposition, in order to form a syllogism, and say that C is A, we find, as before, that A = C + Z; and substituting this value of A in the former proposition, it appears that B = C + Z + X. Then, in the conclusion, we have, C is B; that is C is a part of C + Z + X. And the same in the three other cases or moods of the figure. This seems to be, in plainer terms, what Hobbes means by addition or subtraction of parcels, and what Condillac means by rather a lax expression, that equations and propositions are at bottom the same, or, as he phrases it better, “l’evidence de raison consiste uniquement dans l’identité.” If we add to this, as he probably intended, non-identity, as a condition of all negative conclusions, it seems to be no more than is necessarily involved in the fundamental principle of syllogism, the dictum de omni et nullo; which may be thus reduced to its shortest terms; “Whatever can be divided into parts, includes all those parts, add nothing else.” This is not limited to mathematical quantity, but includes everything which admits of more or less. Hobbes has a good passage in his Logic on this; Non putandum est computationi, id est, ratiocinationi in numeris tantum locum esse, tanquam homo a cæteris animantibus, quod censuisse narratur Pythagoras, sola numerandi facultate distinctus esset; nam et magnitudo magnitudini, corpus corpori, motus motui, tempus tempori, gradus qualitatis gradui, actio actioni, conceptus conceptui, proportio proportioni, oratio orationi, nomen nomini, in quibus omne philosophiæ genus continetur, adjici adimique potest.

But it does not follow by any means that we should assent to the strange passages quoted by Stewart from Condillac and Diderot, which reduce all knowledge to identical propositions. Even in geometry, where the objects are strictly magnitudes, the countless variety in which their relations may be exhibited constitutes the riches of that inexhaustible science; and in moral or physical propositions, the relation of quantity between the subject and predicate, as concretes, which enables them to be compared, though it is the sole foundation of all general deductive reasoning or syllogism, has nothing to do with the other properties or relations, of which we obtain a knowledge by means of that comparison. In mathematical reasoning, we infer as to quantity through the medium of quantity; in other reasoning, we use the same medium, but our inference is as to truths which do not lie within that category. Thus, in the hackneyed instance, All men are mortal; that is, mortal creatures include men and something more, it is absurd to assert, that we only know that men are men. It is true that our knowledge of the truth of the proposition comes by the help of this comparison of men in the subject with men in the predicate; but the very nature of the proposition discovers a constant relation between the individuals of the human species and that mortality which is predicated of them along with others; and it is to this, not in an identical equation, as Diderot seems to have thought, that our knowledge consists.

The remarks of Stewart’s friend. M. Prevost of Geneva, on the principle of identity as the basis of mathematical science, and which the former has candidly subjoined to his own volume, appear to me very satisfactory. Stewart comes to admit that the dispute is nearly verbal; but we cannot say that he originally treated it as such; and the principle itself, both as applied to geometry and to logic, is, in my opinion, of some importance to the clearness of our conceptions as to those sciences. It may be added, that Stewart’s objection to the principle of identity as the basis of geometrical reasoning is less forcible in its application to syllogism. He is willing to admit that magnitudes capable of coincidence by immediate superposition may be reckoned identical, but scruples to apply such a word to those which are dissimilar in figure, as the rectangles of the means and extremes of four proportional lines. Neither one nor the other are, in fact, identical as real quantities, the former being necessarily conceived to differ from each other by position in space, as much as the latter; so that the expression he quotes from Aristotle, εν τουτοις ἡ ισοτης ἑνοτης, or any similar one of modern mathematicians, can only refer to the abstract magnitude of their areas, which being divisible into the same number of equal parts, they are called the same. And there seems no real difference in this respect between two circles of equal radii and two such rectangles as are supposed above, the identity of their magnitudes being a distinct truth, independent of any consideration either of their figure or their position. But however this may be, the identity of the subject with part of the predicate in an affirmative proposition is never fictitious, but real. It means that the persons or things in the one are strictly the same beings with the persons or things to which they are compared in the other, though, through some difference of relations, or other circumstance, they are expressed in different language. It is needless to give examples, as all those who can read this note at all will know how to find them.

I will here take the liberty to remark, though not closely connected with the present subject, that Archbishop Whately seems not quite right in saying (Elements of Logic, p. 46), that in affirmative propositions the predicate is never distributed. Besides the numerous instances where this is, in point of fact, the case, all which he excludes, there are many in which it is involved in the very form of the proposition. Such are all those which assert identity or equality, and such also are all those particular affirmations which have previously been converted from universals. Of the first sort are all the theorems in geometry, asserting an equality of magnitude or ratios, in which the subject and predicate may always change places. It is true that in the instance given in the work quoted, that equilateral triangles are equiangular, the converse requires a separate proof, and so in many similar cases. But in these the predicate is not distributed by the form of the proposition; they assert no quality of magnitude.

The position, that where such equality is affirmed, the predicate is not logically distributed, would lead to the consequence that it can only be converted into a particular affirmation. Thus, after proving that the square of the hypothenuse, in all right-angled triangles, is equal to those of the sides, we could only infer that the squares of the sides are sometimes equal to that of the hypothenuse, which could not be maintained without rendering the rules, of logic ridiculous. The most general mode of considering the question, is to say, as we have done above, that, in an universal affirmative, the predicate B (that is, the class of which B is predicated), is composed of A the subject, and X, an unknown remainder. But if, by the very nature of the proposition, we perceive that X is nothing, or has no value, it is plain that the subject measures the entire predicate, and vice versâ, the predicate measures the subject; in other words, each is taken universally, or distributed.

False reasoning. 130. A man may reckon without the use of words in particular things, as in conjecturing from the sight of anything what is likely to follow; [Pg 513] and if he reckons wrong, it is error. But in reasoning on general words, to fall on a false inference is not error, though often so called, but absurdity.[291] “If a man should talk to me of a round quadrangle, or accidents of bread in cheese, or immaterial substances, or of a free subject, a free will, or any free, but free from being hindered by opposition, I should not say he were in error, but that his words were without meaning, that is to say, absurd;” Some of these propositions, it will occur, are intelligible in a reasonable sense, and not contradictory, except by means of an arbitrary definition which he who employs them does not admit. It will be observed here, as we have done before, that Hobbes does not confine reckoning, or reasoning, to universals, or even to words.

[291] Lev. c. 5.

Its frequency. 131. Man has the exclusive privilege of forming general theorems. But this privilege is allayed by another, that is, by the privilege of absurdity, to which no living creature is subject, but man only. And of men those are of all most subject to it, that profess philosophy.... For there is not one that begins his ratiocination from the definitions or explications of the names they are to use, which is a method used only in geometry, whose conclusions have thereby been made indisputable. He then enumerates seven causes of absurd conclusions; the first of which is the want of definitions, the others are erroneous imposition of names. If we can avoid these errors, it is not easy to fall into absurdity (by which he of course only means any [Pg 514] wrong conclusion) except perhaps by the length of a reasoning. “For all men,” he says, “by nature reason alike, and well, when they have good principles. Hence, it appears that reason is not as sense and memory born with us, nor gotten by experience only, as prudence is, but attained by industry, in apt imposing of names, and in getting a good and orderly method of proceeding from the elements to assertions, and so to syllogisms. Children are not endued with reason at all till they have attained the use of speech, but are called reasonable creatures, for the possibility of having the use of reason hereafter. And reasoning serves the generality of mankind very little, though with their natural prudence without science they are in better condition than those who reason ill themselves, or trust those who have done so.”[292] It has been observed by Buhle, that Hobbes had more respect for the Aristotelian forms of logic than his master Bacon. He has in fact written a short treatise, in his Elementa Philosophiæ, on the subject; observing however therein, that a true logic will be sooner learned by attending to geometrical demonstrations than by drudging over the rules of syllogism, as children learn to walk not by precept but by habit.[293]

[292] Id. ibid.

[293] Citius multo veram logicam discunt qui mathematicorum demonstrationibus, quam qui logicorum syllogizandi præceptis legendis tempus conterunt, haud aliter quam parvuli pueri gressum formare discunt non præceptis sed sæpe gradiendo. C. iv., p. 30. Atque hæc sufficiunt, (he says afterwards) de syllogismo, qui est tanquam gressus philosophiæ; nam et quantum necesse est ad cognoscendum unde vim suam habeat omnis argumentatio legitima, tantum diximus; et omnia accumulare quæ dici possunt, æque superfluum esset ac si quis ut dixi puerulo ad gradiendum præcepta dare velit; acquiritur enim ratiocinandi ars non præceptis sed usu et lectione eorum librorum in quibus omnia severis demonstrationibus transiguntur. C. v., p. 35.

Knowledge of fact not derived from reasoning. 132. “No discourse whatever,” he says truly in the seventh chapter of the Leviathan, “can end in absolute knowledge of fact past or to come. For as to the knowledge of fact, it is originally sense; and ever after memory. And for the knowledge of consequence, which I have said before, is called science, it is not absolute but conditional. No man can know by discourse that this or that is, has been, or will be, which is to know absolutely; but only that if this is, that is; if this has been, that has been; if this shall be, that shall be; which is to know conditionally, and that not the consequence of one thing to another, but of one name of a thing to another name of the same thing. And therefore when the discourse is put into speech and begins with the definitions of words, and proceeds by connexion of the same into general affirmations, and of those again into syllogisms, the end or last sum is called the conclusion, and the thought of the mind by it signified is that conditional knowledge of the consequence of words which is commonly called science. But if the first ground of such discourse be not definitions; or if definitions be not rightly joined together in syllogisms, then the end or conclusion is again opinion, namely, of the truth of somewhat said, though sometimes in absurd and senseless words, without possibility of being understood.”[294]

[294] Lev. c. 7.

Belief. 133. “Belief which is the admitting of propositions upon trust, in many cases is no less free from doubt than perfect and manifest knowledge; for as there is nothing whereof there is not some cause, so when there is doubt, there must be some cause thereof conceived. Now there be many things which we receive from the report of others, of which it is impossible to imagine any cause of doubt; for what can be opposed against the consent of all men, in things they can know and have no cause to report otherwise than they are, such as is great part of our histories, unless a man would say that all the world had conspired to destroy him?”[295] Whatever we believe on the authority of the speaker, he is the object of our faith. Consequently, when we believe that the Scriptures are the word of God, having no immediate revelation from God himself, our belief, faith, and trust is in the church, whose word we take and acquiesce therein. Hence, all we believe on the authority of men, whether they be sent from God or not, is faith in men only.[296] We have no certain knowledge of the truth of Scripture, but trust the holy men of God’s church succeeding one another from the time of those who saw the wondrous works of God Almighty in the flesh. And as we believe the Scriptures to be the word of God on the authority of the church, the interpretation of the Scripture in case of controversy ought to be trusted to the church rather than private opinion.[297]

[295] Hum. Nat. c. 6.

[296] Lev. c. 7.

[297] Lev. c. 9.

Chart of science. 134. The ninth chapter of the Leviathan contains a synoptical chart of human science or “knowledge of consequences,” [Pg 515] also called philosophy. He divides it into natural and civil, the former into consequences from accidents common to all bodies, quantity and motion, and those from qualities, otherwise called physics. The first includes astronomy, mechanics, architecture, as well as mathematics. The second he distinguishes into consequences from qualities of bodies transient, or meteorology, and from those of bodies permanent, such as the stars, the atmosphere, or terrestrial bodies. The last are divided again into those without sense, and those with sense; and these into animals and men. In the consequences from the qualities of animals generally he reckons optics and music; in those from men we find ethics, poetry, rhetoric, and logic. These altogether constitute the first great head of natural philosophy. In the second, or civil philosophy, he includes nothing but the rights and duties of sovereigns and their subjects. This chart of human knowledge is one of the worst that has been propounded, and falls much below that of Bacon.[298]

[298] Hum. Nat., c. 11.

Analysis of passions. 135. This is the substance of the philosophy of Hobbes, so far as it relates to the intellectual faculties, and especially to that of reasoning. In the seventh and two following chapters of the treatise on Human Nature, in the ninth and tenth of the Leviathan, he proceeds to the analysis of the passions. The motion in some internal substance of the head, if it does not stop there, producing mere conceptions, proceeds to the heart, helping or hindering the vital motions, which he distinguishes from the voluntary, exciting in us pleasant or painful affections, called passions. We are solicited by these to draw near to that which pleases us, and the contrary. Hence, pleasure, love, appetite, desire, are divers names for divers considerations of the same thing. As all conceptions we have immediately by the sense are delight or pain or appetite or fear, so are all the imaginations after sense. But as they are weaker imaginations, so are they also weaker pleasures, or weaker pains.[299] All delight is appetite and presupposes a further end. There is no utmost end in this world, for while we live we have desires, and desire presupposes a further end. We are not, therefore, to wonder that men desire more, the more they possess; for felicity, by which we mean continual delight, consists not in having prospered, but in prospering.[300] Each passion, being, as he fancies, a continuation of the motion which gives rise to a peculiar conception, is associated with it. They all, except such as are immediately connected with sense, consist in the conception of a power to produce some effect. To honour a man, is to conceive that he has an excess of power over some one with whom he is compared; hence, qualities indicative of power, and actions significant of it are honourable; riches are honoured as signs of power, and nobility is honourable, as a sign of power in ancestors.[301]

[299] Hum. Nat., c. 7.

[300] Id. Lev., c. 11.

[301] Hum. Nat., c. 8

Good and evil relative terms. 136. “The constitution of man’s body is in perpetual mutation, and hence it is impossible that all the same things should always cause in him the same appetites and aversions; much less can all men consent in the desire of any one object. But whatsoever is the object of any man’s appetite or desire, that is it, which he for his part calls good, and the object of his hate and aversion, evil, or of his contempt, vile and inconsiderable. For these words of good, evil, and contemptible, are ever used with relation to the person using them; there being nothing simply and absolutely so; nor any common rule of good and evil, to be taken from the nature of the objects themselves, but from the person of the man, where there is no commonwealth, or in a commonwealth from the person that represents us, or from an arbitrator or judge, whom men disagreeing shall by consent set up, and make his sentence the rule thereof.”[302]

[302] Lev. c., 6.

His paradoxes. 137. In prosecuting this analysis all the passions are resolved into self-love, the pleasure we take in our own power, the pain we suffer in wanting it. Some of his explications are very forced. Thus weeping is said to be from a sense of our want of power. And here comes one of his strange paradoxes. “Men are apt to weep that prosecute revenge, when the revenge is suddenly stopped or frustrated by the repentance of their adversary; and such are the tears of reconciliation.”[303] So resolute was he to resort to anything the most preposterous, rather than admit a moral feeling in human nature. His account of laughter is better known, and perhaps more probable, though not explaining the whole of the case. After justly observing that whatsoever it be that moves laughter, it must be new and unexpected, he defines it to be “a [Pg 516] sudden glory arising from a sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly, for men laugh at the follies of themselves past.” It might be objected, that those are most prone to laughter, who have least of this glorying in themselves, or undervaluing of their neighbours.

[303] Hum. Nat., c. 9. Lev., c. 6 and 10.

His notion of love. 138. “There is a great difference between the desire of a man when indefinite, and the same desire limited to one person, and this is that love which is the great theme of poets. But notwithstanding their praises, it must be defined by the word need; for it is a conception a man hath of his need of that one person desired.”[304] “There is yet another passion, sometimes called love, but more properly good-will or charity. There can be no greater argument to a man of his own power than to find himself able not only to accomplish his own desires, but also to assist other men in theirs; and this is that conception wherein consists charity. In which first is contained that natural affection of parents towards their children, which the Greeks call στοργη, as also that affection wherewith men seek to assist those that adhere unto them. But the affection wherewith men many times bestow their benefits on strangers is not to be called charity, but either contract, whereby they seek to purchase friendship, or fear which makes them to purchase peace.”[305] This is equally contrary to notorious truth, there being neither fear nor contract in generosity towards strangers. It is, however, not so extravagant as a subsequent position, that in beholding the danger of a ship in a tempest, though there is pity, which is grief, yet “the delight in our own security is so far predominant, that men usually are content in such a case to be spectators of the misery of their friends.”[306]

[304] Hum. Nat., c. 9.

[305] Id. ibid.

[306] Hum. Nat., c. 9. This is an exaggeration of some well-known lines of Lucretius, which are themselves exaggerated.

Curiosity. 139. As knowledge begins from experience, new experience is the beginning of new knowledge. Whatever, therefore, happens new to a man, gives him the hope of knowing somewhat he knew not before. This appetite of knowledge is curiosity. It is peculiar to man; for beasts never regard new things except to discern how far they may be useful, while man looks for the cause and beginning of all he sees.[307] This attribute of curiosity seems rather hastily denied to beasts. And as men, he says, are always seeking new knowledge, so are they always deriving some new gratification. There is no such thing as perpetual tranquility of mind while we live here, because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense. “What kind of felicity God hath ordained to them that devoutly honour him, a man shall no sooner know than enjoy, being joys that now are as incomprehensible, as the word of schoolmen, beatifical vision, is unintelligible.”[308]

[307] Id. ibid.

[308] Lev., c. 6 and c. 11.

Difference of intellectual capacities. 140. From the consideration of the passions, Hobbes advances to inquire what are the causes of the difference in the intellectual capacities and dispositions of men.[309] Their bodily senses are nearly alike, whence he precipitately infers there can be no great difference in the brain. Yet men differ much in their bodily constitution, whence he derives the principal differences in their minds; some being addicted to sensual pleasures are less curious as to knowledge, or ambitious as to power. This is called dullness, and proceeds from the appetite of bodily delight. The contrary to this is a quick ranging of mind accompanied with curiosity in comparing things that come into it, either as to unexpected similitude, in which fancy consists, or dissimilitude in things appearing the same, which is properly called judgment; “for to judge is nothing else, but to distinguish and discern. And both fancy and judgment are commonly comprehended under the name of wit, which seems to be a tenuity and agility of spirits, contrary to that restiness of the spirits supposed in those who are dull.”[310]

[309] Hum. Nat., c. 10.

[310] Hum. Nat.

141. We call it levity, when the mind is easily diverted, and the discourse is parenthetical; and this proceeds from curiosity with too much equality and indifference; for when all things make equal impression and delight, they equally throng to be expressed. A different fault is indocibility, or difficulty of being taught; which must arise from a false opinion that men know already the truth of what is called in question; for certainly they are not otherwise so unequal in capacity as not to discern the difference of what is proved and what is not, and therefore if the minds of men were all of white paper, they would all most equally be disposed to acknowledge whatever should be in right method, and [Pg 517] by right ratiocination delivered to them. But when men have once acquiesced in untrue opinions, and registered them as authentical records in their minds, it is no less impossible to speak intelligibly to such men, than to write legibly on a paper already scribbled over. The immediate cause therefore of indocibility is prejudice, and of prejudice false opinion of our own knowledge.[311]

[311] Hum. Nat.

Wit and fancy. 142. Intellectual virtues are such abilities as go by the name of a good wit, which may be natural or acquired. “By natural wit,” says Hobbes, “I mean not that which a man hath from his birth, for that is nothing else but sense; wherein men differ so little from one another and from brute beasts, as it is not to be reckoned among virtues. But I mean that wit which is gotten by use only and experience, without method, culture or instruction, and consists chiefly in celerity of imagining and steady direction. And the difference in this quickness is caused by that of men’s passions that love and dislike some one thing, some another, and therefore some men’s thoughts run one way, some another; and are held to, and observe differently the things that pass through their imagination.” Fancy is not praised without judgment and discretion, which is properly a discerning of times, places, and persons; but judgment and discretion is commended for itself without fancy: without steadiness and direction to some end, a great fancy is one kind of madness, such as they have who lose themselves in long digressions and parentheses. If the defect of discretion be apparent, how extravagant soever the fancy be, the whole discourse will be taken for a want of wit.[312]

[312] Lev., c. 8.

Differences in the passions. 143. The causes of the difference of wits are in the passions; and the difference of passions proceeds partly from the different constitution of the body and partly from different education. Those passions are chiefly the desire of power, riches, knowledge, or honour; all which may be reduced to the first, for riches, knowledge, and honour are but several sorts of power. He who has no great passion for any of these, though he may be so far a good man as to be free from giving offence, yet cannot possibly have either a great fancy or much judgment. To have weak passions is dullness, to have passions indifferently for everything giddiness and distraction, to have stronger passions for anything than others have is madness. |Madness.| Madness may be the excess of many passions; and the passions themselves, when they lead to evil, are degrees of it. He seems to have had some glimpse of Butler’s hypothesis as to the madness of a whole people. “What argument for madness can there be greater, than to clamour, strike, and throw stones at our best friends? Yet this is somewhat less than such a multitude will do. For they will clamour, fight against, and destroy those by whom all their lifetime before they have been protected, and secured from injury. And if this be madness in the multitude, it is the same in every particular man.”[313]

[313] Id.

Unmeaning language. 144. There is a fault in some men’s habit of discoursing which may be reckoned a sort of madness, which is when they speak words with no signification at all. “And this is incident to none but those that converse in questions of matters incomprehensible as the schoolmen, or in questions of abstruse philosophy. The common sort of men seldom speak insignificantly, and are therefore by those other egregious persons counted idiots. But to be assured their words are without anything correspondent to them in the mind, there would need some examples; which if any man require let him take a schoolman into his hands, and see if he can translate any one chapter concerning any difficult point as the Trinity, the Deity, the nature of Christ, transubstantiation, free will, &c., into any of the modern tongues, so as to make the same intelligible, or into any tolerable Latin, such as they were acquainted with, that lived when the Latin tongue was vulgar.” And after quoting some words from Suarez, he adds: “When men write whole volumes of such stuff, are they not mad, or intend to make others so?”[314]

[314] Lev.

Manners. 145. The eleventh chapter of the Leviathan, on manners, by which he means those qualities of mankind which concern their living together in peace and unity, is full of Hobbes’s caustic remarks on human nature. Often acute, but always severe, he ascribes overmuch to a deliberate and calculating selfishness. Thus, the reverence of antiquity is referred to “the contention men have with the living, not with the dead, to these ascribing more than due that they may obscure the glory of the other.” Thus “to have received from one to whom we think ourselves equal, greater benefits than we can hope to requite, disposes to [Pg 518] counterfeit love, but really to secret hatred, and puts a man into the estate of a desperate debtor, that in declining the sight of his creditor, tacitly wishes him where he might never see him more. For benefits oblige, and obligation is thraldom; and unrequitable obligation perpetual thraldom, which is to one’s equal hateful.” He owns, however, that to have received benefits from a superior, disposes us to love him; and so it does where we can hope to requite even an equal. If these maxims have a certain basis of truth they have at least the fault of those of Rochefoucault; they are made too generally characteristic of mankind.

Ignorances and prejudice. 146. Ignorance of the signification of words disposes men to take on trust not only the truth they know not, but also errors and nonsense. For neither can be detected without a perfect understanding of words. “But ignorance of the causes and original constitution of right, equity, law and justice disposes a man to make custom and example the rule of his actions, in such manner as to think that unjust which it has been the custom to punish, and that just, of the impunity and approbation of which they can produce an example, or, as the lawyers which only use this false measure of justice barbarously call it, a precedent.” “Men appeal from custom to reason and from reason to custom as it serves their turn, receding from custom when their interest requires it, and setting themselves against reason, as oft as reason is against them; which is the cause that the doctrine of right and wrong is perpetually disputed both by the pen and the sword; whereas the doctrine of lines and figures is not so, because men care not in that subject what is truth, as it is a thing that crosses no man’s ambition, profit, or lust. For I doubt not, but if it had been a thing contrary to any man’s right of dominion, or to the interest of men that have dominion, that the three angles of a triangle should be equal to two angles of a square, that doctrine should have been if not disputed, yet by the burning of all books of geometry, suppressed, as far as he whom it concerned was able.”[315] This excellent piece of satire has been often quoted, and sometimes copied, and does not exaggerate the pertinacity of mankind in resisting the evidence of truth, when it thwarts the interests and passions of any particular sect or community. In the earlier part of the paragraph it seems not so easy to reconcile what Hobbes has said with his general notions of right and justice; since, if these resolve themselves, as is his theory into mere force, there can be little appeal to reason, or to anything else than custom and precedent, which are commonly the exponents of power.

[315] 1 Lev., c. 11.

His theory of religion. 147. In the conclusion of this chapter of the Leviathan as well as in the next, he dwells more on the nature of religion than he had done in the former treatise, and so as to subject himself to the imputation of absolute atheism, or at least of a denial of most attributes which we assign to the Deity. Curiosity about causes, he says, led men to search out one after the other, till they came to this necessary conclusion, that there is some eternal cause which men call God. But they have no more idea of his nature, than a blind man has of fire, though he knows that there is something that warms him. So by the visible things of this world and their admirable order, a man may conceive there is a cause of them, which men call God, and yet not have an idea or image of him in his mind. And they that make little inquiry into the natural causes of things, are inclined to feign several kinds of powers invisible and to stand in awe of their own imaginations. And this fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion, and in them that worship or fear that power otherwise than they do, superstition.

148. As God is incomprehensible, it follows that we can have no conception or image of the Deity; and consequently all his attributes signify our inability or defect of power to conceive anything concerning his nature, and not any conception of the same, excepting only this, that there is a God. Men that by their own meditation arrive at the acknowledgment of one infinite, omnipotent, and eternal God, chuse rather to confess this is incomprehensible and above their understanding, than to define his nature by spirit incorporeal, and then confess their definition to be unintelligible.[316] For concerning such spirits he holds that it is not possible by natural means only to come to the knowledge of so much as that there are such things.[317]

[316] Lev., c. 12.

[317] Hum. Nat., c. 11.

Its supposed sources. 149. Religion he derives from three sources, the desire of men to search for causes, the reference of everything that has a beginning to some cause, and the observation of the order and consequence of things. But the two former lead to anxiety, for the knowledge [Pg 519] that there have been causes of the effects we see, leads us to anticipate that they will in time be the causes of effects to come; so that every man, especially such as are over-provident, is “like Prometheus, the prudent man, as his name implies, who was bound to the hill Caucasus, a place of large prospect, where an eagle feeding on his liver devoured as much by day as was repaired by night; and so he who looks too far before him, has his heart all day long gnawed by the fear of death, poverty or other calamity, and has no repose nor pause but in sleep.” This is an allusion made in the style of Lord Bacon. The ignorance of causes makes men fear some invisible agent, like the gods of the Gentiles; but the investigation of them leads us to a God eternal, infinite, and omnipotent. This ignorance however, of second causes, conspiring with three other prejudices of mankind, the belief in ghosts, or spirits of subtile bodies, the devotion and reverence generally shown towards what we fear as having power to hurt us, and the taking of things casual for prognostics, are altogether the natural seed of religion, which by reason of the different fancies, judgments, and passions of several men hath grown up into ceremonies so different that those which are used by one man are for the most part ridiculous to another. He illustrates this by a variety of instances from ancient superstitions. But the forms of religion are changed when men suspect the wisdom, sincerity, or love of those who teach it, or its priests.[318] The remaining portion of the Leviathan relating to moral and political philosophy, must be deferred to our next chapter.

[318] Lev., c. 12.

150. The Elementa Philosophiæ were published by Hobbes, in 1655, and dedicated to his constant patron the Earl of Devonshire. These are divided into three parts; entitled De Corpore, De Homine, and De Cive. And the first part has itself three divisions; Logic, the First Philosophy, and Physics. The second part, De Homine, is neither the treatise of Human Nature, nor the corresponding part of the Leviathan, though it contains many things substantially found there. A long disquisition on optics and the nature of vision, chiefly geometrical, is entirely new. The third part, De Cive, is the treatise by that name reprinted, as far as I am aware, without alteration.

151. The first part of the first treatise, entitled Computatio sive Logica, is by no means the least valuable among the philosophical writings of Hobbes. In forty pages the subject is very well and clearly explained, nor do I know that the principles are better laid down, or the rules more sufficiently given in more prolix treatises. Many of his observations, especially as to words, are such as we find in his English works, and perhaps his nominalism is more clearly expressed than it is in them. Of the syllogistic method, at least for the purpose of demonstration, or teaching others, he seems to have entertained a favourable opinion, or even to have held it necessary for real demonstration, as his definition shows. Hobbes appears to be aware of what I do not remember to have seen put by others, that in the natural process of reasoning, the minor premise commonly precedes the major.[319] It is for want of attending to this, that syllogisms, as usually stated, are apt to have so formal and unnatural a construction. The process of the mind in this kind of reasoning is explained, in general, with correctness, and, I believe, with originality in the following passage, which I shall transcribe from the Latin, rather than give a version of my own; few probably being likely to read the present section, who are unacquainted with that language. The style [Pg 520] of Hobbes, though perspicuous, is concise, and the original words will be more satisfactory than any translation.

[319] In Whateley’s Logic, p. 90, it is observed, that “the proper order is to place the major premise first, and the minor second; but this does not constitute the major and minor premises,” &c. It may be the proper order in one sense, as exhibiting better the foundation of syllogistic reasoning; but it is not that which we commonly follow, either in thinking, or in proving to others. In the rhetorical use of syllogism it can admit of no doubt, that the opposite order is the most striking and persuasive; such as in Cato, “If there be a God, he must delight in virtue; And that which he delights in must be happy.” In Euclid’s demonstrations this will be found the form usually employed. And, though the rules of grammar are generally illustrated by examples, which is beginning with the major premise, yet the process of reasoning which a boy employs in construing a Latin sentence is the reverse. He observes a nominative case, a verb in the third person, and then applies his general rule, or major, to the particular instance, or minor, so as to infer their agreement. In criminal jurisprudence, the Scots begin with the major premise, or relevancy of the indictment, when there is room for doubt; the English with the minor, or evidence of the fact, reserving the other for what we call motion in arrest of judgment. Instances of both orders are common, but by far the most frequent are of that which the Archbishop of Dublin reckons the less proper of the two. Those logicians who fail to direct the student’s attention to this, really do not justice to their own favourite science.

152. Syllogismo directo cogitatio in animo respondens est hujusmodi. Primo concipitur phantasma rei nominatæ cum accidente sive affectu ejus propter quem appellatur eo nomine quod est in minore propositione subjectum; deinde animo occurrit phantasma ejusdem rei cum accidente sive affectu propter quem appellatur, quod est in eadem propositione prædicatum. Tertio redit cogitatio rursus ad rem nominatam cum affectu propter quem eo nomine appellatur, quod est in prædicato propositionis majoris. Postremo cum meminerit eos affectus esse omnes unius et ejusdem rei, concludit tria illa nomina ejusdem quoque rei esse nomina; hoc est, conclusionem esse veram. Exempli causa, quando fit syllogismus hic, Homo est Animal, Animal est Corpus, ergo Homo est Corpus, occurrit animo imago hominis loquentis vel differentis [sic, sed lege disserentis], meminitque id quod sic apparet vocari hominem. Deinde occurrit eadem imago ejusdem hominis sese moventis, meminitque id quod sic apparet vocari animal. Tertio recurrit eadem imago hominis locum aliquem sive spatium occupantis, meminitque id quod sic apparet vocari corpus.[320] Postremo cum meminerit rem illam quæ et extendebatur secundum locum, et loco movebatur, et oratione utebatur, unam et eandem fuisse, concludit etiam nomina illa tria, Homo, Animal, Corpus, ejusdem rei esse nomina, et proinde, Homo est Corpus, esse propositionem veram. Manifestum hinc est conceptum sive cogitationem quæ respondens syllogismo ex propositionibus universalibus in animo existit, nullam esse in iis animalibus quibus deest usus nominum, cum inter syllogizandum oporteat non modo de re sed etiam alternis vicibus de diversis rei nominibus, quæ propter diversas de re cogitationes adhibitæ sunt, cogitare.

[320] This is the questionable part of Hobbes’s theory of syllogism. According to the common and obvious understanding, the mind, in the major premise, Animal est Corpus, does not reflect on the subject of the minor, Homo, as occupying space, but on the subject of the major, Animal, which includes indeed the former, but is mentally substituted for it. It may sometimes happen, that where this predicate of the minor term is manifestly a collective word that comprehends the subject, the latter is not as it were absorbed in it, and may be contemplated by the mind distinctly in the major; as if we say, John is a man: a man feels; we may perhaps have no image in the mind of any man but John. But this is not the case where the predicated quality appertains to many things visibly different from the subject; as in Hobbes’s instance Animal est Corpus, we may surely consider other animals as being extended and occupying space besides men. It does not seem that otherwise there could be any ascending scale from particulars to generals, as far as the reasoning faculties, independent of words, are concerned. And if we begin with the major premise of the syllogism, this will be still more apparent.

153. The metaphysical philosophy of Hobbes, always bold and original, often acute and profound, without producing an immediate school of disciples like that of Descartes, struck, perhaps, a deeper root in the minds of reflecting men, and has influenced more extensively the general tone of speculation. Locke, who had not read much, had certainly read Hobbes, though he does not borrow from him so much as has sometimes been imagined. The French metaphysicians of the next century found him nearer to their own theories than his more celebrated rival in English philosophy. But the writer who has built most upon Hobbes, and may be reckoned, in a certain sense, his commentator, if he who fully explains and develops a system may deserve that name, was Hartley. The theory of association is implied and intimated in many passages of the elder philosopher, though it was first expanded and applied with a diligent, ingenious and comprehensive research, if sometimes in too forced a manner, by his disciple. I use this word without particular inquiry into the direct acquaintance of Hartley with the writings of Hobbes; the subject had been frequently touched in intermediate publications, and, in matters of reasoning, as I have intimated above, little or no presumption of borrowing can be founded on coincidence. Hartley also resembles Hobbes in the extreme to which he has pushed the nominalist theory, in the proneness to materialize all intellectual processes, and either to force all things mysterious to our faculties into something imaginable, or to reject them as unmeaning, in the want, much connected with this, of a steady perception of the difference between the Ego and its objects, in an excessive love of simplifying and generalizing, and in a readiness to adopt explanations neither conformable to reason nor experience, when they fall in with some single principle, the key that was to unlock every ward of the human soul.

154. In nothing does Hobbes deserve more credit than in having set an example of close observation in the philosophy of [Pg 521] the human mind. If he errs, he errs like a man who goes a little out of the right track, not like one who has set out in a wrong one. The eulogy of Stewart on Descartes, that he was the father of this experimental psychology, cannot be strictly wrested from him by Hobbes, inasmuch as the publications of the former are of an earlier date; but we may fairly say that the latter began as soon, and prosecuted his inquiries farther. It seems natural to presume that Hobbes, who is said to have been employed by Bacon in translating some of his works into Latin, had at least been led by him to the inductive process he has more than any other employed. But he has seldom mentioned his predecessor’s name; and indeed his mind was of a different stamp; less excursive, less quick in discovering analogies, and less fond of reasoning from them, but more close, perhaps more patient, and more apt to follow up a predominant idea, which sometimes becomes one of the “idola specûs” that deceive him.


FROM 1600 TO 1650.

Sect. I.


Casuists of the Roman Church—Suarez on Moral Law—Selden—Charron—La Mothe le Vayer—Bacon’s Essays—Feltham—Browne’s Regligio Medici—Other Writers.

1. In traversing so wide a field as moral and political philosophy, we must still endeavour to distribute the subject according to some order of subdivision, so far at least as the contents of the books themselves which come before us will permit. And we give the first place to those which, relating to the moral law both of nature and revelation, connect the proper subject of the present chapter with that of the second and third.

Casuistical writers. 2. We meet here a concourse of volumes occupying no small space in old libraries, the writings of the casuists, chiefly within the Romish church. None perhaps in the whole compass of literature are more neglected by those who do not read with what we may call a professional view; but to the ecclesiastics of that communion they have still a certain value, though far less than when they were first written. The most vital discipline of that church, the secret of the power of its priesthood, the source of most of the good and evil it can work, is found in the confessional. |Importance of confession.| It is there that the keys are kept; it is there that the lamp burns whose rays diverge to every portion of human life. No church that has relinquished this prerogative can ever establish a permanent dominion over mankind; none that retains it in effective use can lose the hope or the prospect of being their ruler.

Necessity of rules for the confessor. 3. It is manifest that in the common course of this rite, no particular difficulty will arise, nor is the confessor likely to weigh in golden scales the scruples or excuses of ordinary penitents. But peculiar circumstances might be brought before him, wherein there would be a necessity for possessing some rule, lest by sanctioning the guilt of the party before him he should incur as much of his own. Treatises therefore of casuistry were written as guides to the confessor, and became the text books in every course of ecclesiastical education. These were commonly digested in a systematic order, and, what is the unfailing consequence of system, or rather almost part of its definition, spread into minute ramifications, and aimed at comprehending every possible emergency. Casuistry is itself allied to jurisprudence, especially to that of the canon law; and it was natural to transfer the subtlety of distinction and copiousness of partition usual with the jurists, to a science which its professors were apt to treat upon very similar principles.

Increase of casuistical literature. 4. The older theologians seem, like the Greek and Roman moralists, when writing systematically, to have made general morality their subject, and casuistry but their illustration. Among the monuments of their ethical philosophy, the Secunda Secundæ [Pg 522] of Aquinas is the most celebrated. Treatises however of casuistry, which is the expansion and application of ethics, may be found both before and during the sixteenth century; and while the confessional was actively converted to so powerful an engine, they could not conveniently be wanting. Casuistry indeed is not much required by the church in an ignorant age; but the sixteenth century was not an age of ignorance. Yet it is not till about the end of that period that we find casuistical literature burst out, so to speak, with a profusion of fruit. “Uninterruptedly afterwards,” says Eichhorn, “through the whole seventeenth century, the moral and casuistical literature of the church of Rome was immensely rich; and it caused a lively and extensive movement in a province which had long been at peace. The first impulse came from the Jesuits, to whom the Jansenists opposed themselves. We must distinguish from both the theological moralists, who remained faithful to their ancient teaching.”[321]

[321] Geschichte der Cultur, vol. vi., part i, p. 390.

Distraction of subjective and objective morality. 5. We may be blamed, perhaps, for obtruding a pedantic terminology, if we make the most essential distinction in morality, and one for want of which, more than any other, its debatable controversies have arisen, that between the subjective and objective rectitude of actions; in clearer language, between the provinces of conscience and of reason, between what is well meant, and what is well done. The chief business of the priest is naturally with the former. The walls of the confessional are privy to the whispers of self-accusing guilt. No doubt can ever arise as to the subjective character of actions which the conscience has condemned, and for which the penitent seeks absolution. Were they even objectively lawful, they are sins in him, according to the unanimous determination of casuists. But though what the conscience reclaims against is necessarily wrong, relatively to the agent, it does not follow that what it may fail to disapprove is innocent. Chuse whatever theory we may please as to the moral standard of actions, they must have an objective rectitude of their own, independently of their agent, without which there could be no distinction of right and wrong, or any scope for the dictates of conscience. The science of ethics, as a science, can only be conversant with objective morality. Casuistry is the instrument of applying this science, which, like every other, is built on reasoning, to the moral nature and volition of man. It rests for its validity on the great principle, that it is our duty to know, as far as lies in us, what is right as well as to do what we know to be such. But its application was beset with obstacles; the extenuations of ignorance and error were so various, the difficulty of representing the moral position of the penitent to the judgment of the confessor by any process of language so insuperable, that the most acute understanding might be foiled in the task of bringing home a conviction of guilt to the self-deceiving, sinner. Again, he might aggravate needless scruples, or disturb the tranquil repose of innocence.

Directory office of the confessor. 6. But though past actions are the primary subject of auricular confession, it was a necessary consequence that the priest would be frequently called upon to advise as to the future, to bind or loose the will in incomplete or meditated lines of conduct. And as all without exception must come before his tribunal, the rich, the noble, the counsellors of princes, and princes themselves, were to reveal their designs, to expound their uncertainties, to call, in effect, for his sanction in all they might have to do, to secure themselves against transgression by shifting the responsibility on his head. That this tremendous authority of direction, distinct from the rite of penance, though immediately springing from it, should have produced a no more overwhelming influence of the priesthood than it has actually done, great as that has been, can only be ascribed to the reaction of human inclinations which will not be controlled, and of human reason which exerts a silent force against the authority it acknowledges.

Difficulties of casuistry. 7. In the directory business of the confessional, far more than in the penitential, the priest must strive to bring about that union between subjective and objective rectitude in which the perfection of a moral act consists, without which in every instance, according to their tenets, some degree of sinfulness, some liability to punishment remains, and which must at least be demanded from those who have been made acquainted with their duty. But when he came from the broad lines of the moral law, from the decalogue and the Gospel, or even from the ethical systems of theology, to the indescribable variety of circumstance which his penitents had to recount, there arose a multitude of problems, and such as [Pg 523] perhaps would most command his attention, when they involved the practice of the great, to which he might hesitate to apply an unbending rule. The questions of casuistry, like those of jurisprudence, were often found to turn on the great and ancient doubt of both sciences, whether we should abide by the letter of a general law, or let in an equitable interpretation of its spirit. The consulting party would be apt to plead for the one; the guide of conscience would more securely adhere to the other. But he might also perceive the severity of those rules of obligation which conduce, in the particular instance, to no apparent end, or even defeat their own principle. Hence, there arose two schools of casuistry: first in the practice of confession, and afterwards in the books intended to assist it; one strict and uncomplying, the other more indulgent and flexible to circumstances.

Strict and lax schemes of it. 8. The characteristics of these systems were displayed in almost the whole range of morals. They were, however, chiefly seen in the rules of veracity and especially in promissory obligations. According to the fathers of the church, and to the rigid casuists in general, a lie was never to be uttered, a promise was never to be broken. The precepts, especially of revelation, notwithstanding their brevity and figurativeness, were held complete and literal. Hence, promises obtained by mistake, fraud, or force, and, above all, gratuitous vows, where God was considered as the promisee, however lightly made, or become intolerably onerous by supervenient circumstances, were strictly to be fulfilled, unless the dispensing power of the church might sometimes be sufficient to release them. Besides the respect due to moral rules, and especially those of Scripture, there had been from early times in the Christian church a strong disposition to the ascetic scheme of religious morality; a prevalent notion of the intrinsic meritoriousness of voluntary self-denial, which discountenanced all regard in man to his own happiness, at least in this life, as a sort of flinching from the discipline of suffering. And this had doubtless its influence upon the severe casuists.

Convenience of the latter. 9. But there had not been wanting those who, whatever course they might pursue in the confessional, found the convenience of an accommodating morality in the secular affairs of the church. Oaths were broken, engagements entered into without faith, for the ends of the clergy, or of those whom they favoured in the struggles of the world. And some of the ingenious sophistry, by which these breaches of plain rules are usually defended, was not unknown before the Reformation. But casuistical writings at that time were comparatively few. The Jesuits have the credit of first rendering public a scheme of false morals, which has been denominated from them, and enhanced the obloquy that overwhelmed their order. Their volumes of casuistry were exceedingly numerous; some of them belong to the last twenty years of the sixteenth, but a far greater part to the following century.

Favoured by the Jesuits. 10. The Jesuits were prone for several reasons to embrace the laxer theories of obligation. They were less tainted than the old monastic orders with that superstition which had flowed into the church from the east, the meritoriousness of self-inflicted suffering for its own sake. They embraced a life of toil and danger, but not of habitual privation and pain. Dauntless in death and torture, they shunned the mechanical asceticism of the convent. And, secondly, their eyes were bent on a great end, the good of the Catholic church, which they identified with that of their own order. It almost invariably happens, that men who have the good of mankind at heart, and actively prosecute it, become embarrassed, at some time or other, by the conflict of particular duties with the best method of promoting their object. An unaccommodating veracity, an unswerving good faith, will often appear to stand, or stand really, in the way of their ends; and hence the little confidence we repose in enthusiasts, even when, in a popular mode of speaking, they are most sincere; that is, most convinced of the rectitude of their aim.

The causes of this. 11. The course prescribed by Loyola led his disciples not to solitude, but to the world. They became the associates and counsellors, as well as the confessors of the great. They had to wield the powers of the earth for the service of heaven. Hence, in confession itself, they were often tempted to look beyond the penitent, and to guide his conscience rather with a view to his usefulness than his integrity. In questions of morality, to abstain from action is generally the means of innocence, but to act is indispensable for positive good. Thus their casuistry had a natural tendency to [Pg 524] become more objective, and to entangle the responsibility of personal conscience in an inextricable maze of reasoning. They had also to retain their influence over men not wholly submissive to religious control, nor ready to abjure the pleasant paths in which they trod; men of the court and the city, who might serve the church though they did not adorn it, and for whom it was necessary to make some compromise in furtherance of the main design.

Extravagance of the strict casuists. 12. It must also be fairly admitted, that rigid casuists went to extravagant lengths. Their decisions were often not only harsh, but unsatisfactory; the reason demanded in vain a principle of their iron law; and the common sense of mankind imposed the limitations, which they were incapable of excluding by anything better than a dogmatic assertion. Thus, in the cases of promissory obligation, they were compelled to make some exceptions, and these left it open to rational inquiry whether more might not be found. They diverged unnecessarily, as many thought, from the principles of jurisprudence; for the jurists built their determinations, or professed to do so on what was just and equitable among men; and though a distinction, frequently very right, was taken between the forum exterius and interius, the provinces of jurisprudence and casuistry, yet the latter could not, in these questions of mutual obligation, rest upon wholly different ground from the former.

Opposite faults of Jesuits. 13. The Jesuits, however, fell rapidly into the opposite extreme. Their subtlety in logic, and great ingenuity in devising arguments, were employed in sophisms that undermined the foundations of moral integrity in the heart. They warred with these arms against the conscience which they were bound to protect. The offences of their casuistry, as charged by their adversaries, are very multifarious. One of the most celebrated is the doctrine of equivocation; the innocence of saying that which is true in a sense meant by the speaker, though he is aware that it will be otherwise understood. Another is that of what was called probability; according to which it is lawful, in doubtful problems of morality, to take the course which appears to ourselves least likely to be right, provided any one casuistical writer of good repute has approved it. The multiplicity of books, and want of uniformity in their decisions, made this a broad path for the conscience. In the latter instance, as in many others, the subjective nature of moral obligation was lost sight of; and to this the scientific treatment of casuistry inevitably contributed.

14. Productions so little regarded as those of the Jesuitical casuists cannot be dwelt upon. Thomas Sanchez of Cordova, is author of a large treatise on matrimony, published in 1592; the best, as far as the canon law is concerned, which has yet been published. But in the casuistical portion of this work, the most extraordinary indecencies occur, such as have consigned it to general censure.[322] Some of these, it must be owned, belong to the rite of auricular confession itself, as managed in the church of Rome, though they give scandal by their publication and apparent excess beyond the necessity of the case. The Summa Casuum Conscientiæ of Toletus, a Spanish Jesuit and cardinal, which, though published in 1602, belongs to the sixteenth century, and the casuistical writings of Less, Busenbaum, and Escobar, may just be here mentioned. The Medulla Casuum Conscientiæ of the second (Munster, 1645), went through fifty-two editions, the Theologia Moralis of the last (Lyon, 1646), through forty.[323] Of the opposition excited by the laxity in moral rules ascribed to the Jesuits, though it began in some manner during this period, we shall have more to say in the next.

[322] Bayle, art. Sanchez, expatiates on this, and condemns the Jesuit; Catilina Cethegum. The later editions of Sanchez De Matrimonia, are castigate.

[323] Ranke, die Päpste, vol. iii.

Suarez. De Legibus. 15. Suarez of Granada, by far the greatest man in the department of moral philosophy whom the order of Loyola produced in this age, or perhaps in any other, may not improbably have treated of casuistry in some part of his numerous volumes. We shall, however, gladly leave this subject to bring before the reader a large treatise of Suarez, on the principles of natural law, as well as of all positive jurisprudence. This is entitled, Tractatus de legibus ac Deo legislatore in decem libros distributus, utriusque fori hominibus non minus utilis, quam necessarius. It might, with no great impropriety, perhaps, be placed in any of the three sections of this chapter, relating not only to moral philosophy, but to politics in some degree, and to jurisprudence.

Titles of his ten books. 16. Suarez begins by laying down the position, that all legislative, as well as all paternal, power is derived from God, and that the authority [Pg 525] of every law resolves itself into his. For either the law proceeds immediately from God; or, if it be human, it proceeds from man as his vicar and minister. The titles of the ten books of this large treatise are as follows: 1. On the nature of law in general, and on its causes and consequences; 2. On eternal, natural law, and that of nations; 3. On positive human law in itself, considered relatively to human nature, which is also called civil law; 4. On positive ecclesiastical law; 5. On the differences of human laws, and especially of those that are penal, or in the nature of penal; 6. On the interpretation, the alteration, and the abolition of human laws; 7. On unwritten law, which is called custom; 8. On those human laws which are called favourable, or privileges; 9. On the positive divine law of the old dispensations; 10. On the positive divine law of the new dispensation.

Heads of the second book. 17. This is a very comprehensive chart of general law, and entitles Suarez to be accounted such a precursor of Grotius and Puffendorf as occupied most of their ground, especially that of the latter, though he cultivated it in a different manner. His volume is a closely printed folio of 700 pages in double columns. The following heads of chapters in the second book will show the questions in which Suarez dealt, and in some degree his method of stating and conducting them. 1. Whether there be any eternal law, and what is its necessity; 2. On the subject of eternal law, and on the acts it commands; 3. In what act (actus, not actio, a scholastic term as I conceive), the eternal law exists (existit), and whether it be one or many; 4. Whether the eternal law be the cause of other laws, and obligatory through their means; 5. In what natural law consists; 6. Whether natural law be a preceptive divine law; 7. On the subject of natural law, and on its precepts; 8. Whether natural law be one; 9. Whether natural law bind the conscience; 10. Whether natural law obliges not only to the act (actus) but to the mode (modum) of virtue. This obscure question seems to refer to the subjective nature, or motive, of virtuous actions, as appears by the next; 11. Whether natural law obliges us to act from love or charity (ad modum operandi ex caritate); 12. Whether natural law not only prohibits certain actions, but invalidates them when done; 13. Whether the precepts of the law of nature are intrinsically immutable; 14. Whether any human authority can alter or dispense with the natural law; 15. Whether God by his absolute power can dispense with the law of nature; 16. Whether an equitable interpretation can ever be admitted in the law of nature; 17. Whether the law of nature is distinguishable from that of nations; 18. Whether the law of nations enjoins or forbids anything; 19. By what means we are to distinguish the law of nature from that of nations; 20. Certain corollaries; and that the law of nations is both just, and also mutable.

Character of such scholastic treatises. 18. These heads may give some slight notion to the reader of the character of the book, as the book itself may serve as a typical instance of that form of theology, of metaphysics of ethics, of jurisprudence, which occupies the unread and unreadable folios of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially those issuing from the church of Rome, and may be styled generally the scholastic method. Two remarkable characteristics strike us in these books, which are sufficiently to be judged by reading their table of contents, and by taking occasional samples of different parts. The extremely systematic form they assume, and the multiplicity of divisions render this practice more satisfactory than it can be in works of less regular arrangement. One of these characteristics is that spirit of system itself, and another is their sincere desire to exhaust the subject by presenting it to the mind in every light, and by tracing all its relations and consequences. The fertility of those men who, like Suarez, superior to most of the rest, were trained in the scholastic discipline, to which I refer the methods of the canonists and casuists, is sometimes surprising; their views are not one-sided; they may not solve objections to our satisfaction, but they seldom suppress them; they embrace a vast compass of thought and learning; they write less for the moment, and are less under the influence of local and temporary prejudices than many who have lived in better ages of philosophy. But, again, they have great defects; their distinctions confuse instead of giving light; their systems being not founded on clear principles become embarrassed and incoherent; their method is not always sufficiently consecutive; the difficulties which they encounter are too arduous for them; they labour under the multitude, and are entangled by the discordance of their authorities.

Quotations of Suarez. 19. Suarez, who discusses all these important problems of his second book with acuteness, and, for his circumstances, with [Pg 526] an independent mind, is weighed down by the extent and nature of his learning. If Grotius quotes philosophers and poets too frequently, what can we say of the perpetual reference to Aquinas, Cajetan, Soto, Turrecremata, Vasquius, Isidore, Vincent of Beauvais or Alensis, not to mention the canonists and fathers, which Suarez employs to prove or disprove every proposition. The syllogistic forms are unsparingly introduced. Such writers as Soto or Suarez held all sort of ornament not less unfit for philosophical argument than it would be for geometry. Nor do they ever appeal to experience or history for the rules of determination. Their materials are nevertheless abundant, consisting of texts of Scripture, sayings of the fathers and schoolmen, established theorems in natural theology and metaphysics, from which they did not find it hard to select premises which, duly arranged, gave them conclusions.

His definition of eternal law. 20. Suarez, after a prolix discussion, comes to the conclusion, that “eternal law is the free determination of the will of God, ordaining a rule to be observed, either, first, generally by all parts of the universe as a means of common good, whether immediately belonging to it in respect of the entire universe or at least in respect of the singular parts thereof; or, secondly, to be specially observed by intellectual creatures in respect of their free operations.”[324] This is not instantly perspicuous; but definitions of a complex nature cannot be rendered such, and I do not know that it perplexes more at first sight than the enunciation of the last proposition in the fifth book of Simson’s Euclid, or many others in the conic sections and other parts of geometry. It is, however, what the reader may think curious, that this crabbed piece of scholasticism is nothing else, in substance, than the celebrated sentence on law, which concludes the first book of Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity. Whoever takes the pains to understand Suarez, will perceive that he asserts exactly that which is unrolled in the majestic eloquence of our countryman.

[324] Legem æternam esse decretum liberum voluntatis Dei statuentis ordinem servandum, aut generaliter ab omnibus partibus universi in ordine ad commune bonum, vel immediatè illi conveniens ratione totius universi, vel saltem ratione singularum specierum ejus, aut specialiter servandum a creaturis intellectualibus quoad liberas operationes earum, c. 3, § 6. Compare with Hooker: Of Law no less can be said than that her throne is the bosom of God, &c.

21. By this eternal law God is not necessarily bound. But this seems to be said rather for the sake of avoiding phrases which were conventionally rejected by the scholastic theologians, since, in effect, his theory requires the affirmative, as we shall soon perceive; and he here says that the law is God himself (Deus ipse), and is immutable. This eternal law is not immediately known to man in this life, but either “in other laws, or through them,” which he thus explains. “Men, while pilgrims here, (viatores homines), cannot learn the divine will in itself, but only as much as by certain signs or effects is proposed to them; and hence, it is peculiar to the blessed in heaven that, contemplating the divine will, they are ruled by it as by a direct law. The former know the eternal law, because they partake of it by other laws, temporal and positive; for, as second causes display the first, and creatures the Creator, so temporal laws (by which he means laws respective of man on earth), being streams from that eternal law, manifest the fountain whence they spring. Yet all do not arrive even at this degree of knowledge, for all are not able to infer the cause from the effect. And thus, though all men necessarily perceive some participation of the eternal laws in themselves, since there is no one endowed with reason who does not in some manner acknowledge that what is morally good ought to be chosen, and what is evil rejected, so that in this sense men have all some notion of the eternal law, as St. Thomas, and Hales, and Augustin say; yet nevertheless they do not all know it formally, nor are aware of their participation of it, so that it may be said the eternal law is not universally known in a direct manner. But some attain that knowledge, either by natural reasoning, or more properly by revelation of faith; and hence we have said that it is known by some only in the inferior laws, but by others through the means of those laws.”[325]

[325] Lib. ii., c. 4, § 9.

Whether God is a legislator? 22. In every chapter Suarez propounds the arguments of doctors on either side of the problem, ending with his own determination, which is frequently a middle course. On the question, Whether natural law is of itself preceptive, or merely indicative of what is intrinsically right or wrong, or, in other words, whether God, as to this law, is a legislator, he holds this line with Aquinas and most theologians (as he says), contending that natural law does not merely [Pg 527] indicate right and wrong, but commands the one and prohibits the other; though this will of God is not the whole ground of the moral good and evil which belongs to the observance or transgression of natural law, inasmuch as it presupposes a certain intrinsic right and wrong in the actions themselves, to which it superadds the special obligation of a divine law. God, therefore, may be truly called a legislator in respect of natural law.[326]

[326] Hæc Dei voluntas, prohibitio aut præceptio non est tota ratio bonitatis et malitiæ quæ est in observatione vel transgressione legis naturalis, sed supponit in ipsis actubus necessariam quandam honestatem vel turpitudinem, et illis adjungit specialem legis divinæ obligationem, c. 6, § 11.

Whether God could permit or commend wrong actions. 23. He next comes to a profound but important inquiry, Whether God could have permitted by his own law actions against natural reason? Ockham and Gerson had resolved this in the affirmative, Aquinas the contrary way. Suarez assents to the latter, and thus determines that the law is strictly immutable. It must follow of course that the pope cannot alter or dispense with the law of nature, and he might have spared the fourteenth chapter, wherein he controverts the doctrine of Sanchez and some casuists who had maintained so extraordinary a prerogative.[327] This, however, is rather episodical. In the fifteenth chapter he treats more at length the question, Whether God can dispense with the law of nature? which is not, perhaps, at least according to the notions of many, decided in denying his power to repeal it. He begins by distinguishing three classes of moral laws. The first are the most general, such as that good is to be done rather than evil; and with these it is agreed that God cannot dispense. The second is of such as the precepts of the decalogue, where the chief difficulty had arisen. Ockham, Peter d’Ailly, Gerson, and others, incline to say that he can dispense with all these, inasmuch as they are only prohibitions which he has himself imposed. These were the heads of the nominalist party; and their opinion might be connected, though not necessarily, with the denial of the reality of mixed modes. This tenet, Suarez observes, is rejected by all other theologians as false and absurd. He decidedly holds that there is an intrinsic goodness or malignity in actions independent of the command of God. Scotus had been of opinion that God might dispense with the commandments of the second table, but not those of the first. Durand seems to have thought the fifth commandment (our sixth) more dispensable than the rest, probably on account of the case of Abraham. But Aquinas, Cajetan, Soto, with many more, deny absolutely the dispensability of the decalogue in any part. The Gordian knot about the sacrifice of Isaac is cut by a distinction, that God did not act here as a legislator, but in another capacity, as lord of life and death, so that he only used Abraham as an instrument for that which he might have done himself. The third class of moral precepts is of those not contained in the decalogue, as to which he decides also that God cannot dispense with them, though he may change the circumstances upon which their obligation rests, as when he releases a vow.

[327] Nulla potestas humana, etiamsi pontificia sit, potest proprium aliquod præceptum legis naturalis abrogare, nec illud proprie et in se minuere, neque in ipso dispensare, § 8.

English Casuists—Perkins, Hall. 24. The Protestant churches were not generally attentive to casuistical divinity, which smelt too much of the opposite system. Eichhorn observes that the first book of that class, published among the Lutherans, was by a certain Baldwin of Wittenberg, in 1628.[328] A few books of casuistry were published in England during this period, though nothing, as well as I remember, that can be reckoned a system or even a treatise of moral philosophy. Perkins, an eminent Calvinistic divine of the reign of Elizabeth, is the first of these in point of time. His Cases of Conscience appeared in 1606. Of this book I can say nothing from personal knowledge. In the works of Bishop Hall several particular questions of this kind are treated, but not with much ability. His distinctions are more than usually feeble. Thus, usury is a deadly sin, but it is very difficult to commit it unless we love the sin for its own sake; for almost every possible case of lending money will be found by his limitations of the rule to justify the taking a profit for the loan.[329] His casuistry about selling goods is of the same description: a man must take no advantage of the scarcity of the commodity, unless there should be just reason to raise the price, which he admits to be often the case in a scarcity. He concludes by observing that, in this, as in other well ordered nations, it would be a happy thing to have a regulation of prices. He decides, as all the old casuists did, that a promise extorted by a robber is binding. Sanderson [Pg 528] was the most celebrated of the English casuists. His treatise, De Juramenti Obligatione, appeared in 1647.

[328] Vol. vi., part i., p. 346.

[329] Hall’s Works (edit. Pratt), vol. viii., p. 375.

Selden, De Jure Naturali juxta Hebræos. 25. Though no proper treatise of moral philosophy came from any English writer in this period, we have one which must be placed in this class, strangely as the subject has been handled by its distinguished author. Selden published in 1640 his learned work, De Jure Naturali et Gentium juxta Disciplinam Ebræorum.[330] The object of the author was to trace the opinions of the Jews on the law of nature and nations, or of moral obligation, as distinct from the Mosaic law; the former being a law to which they held all mankind to be bound. This theme had been of course untouched by the Greek and Roman philosophers, nor was much to be found upon it in modern writers. His purpose is therefore rather historical than argumentative; but he seems so generally to adopt the Jewish theory of natural law that we may consider him the disciple of the rabbis as much as their historian.

[330] Juxta for secundum, we need hardly say, is bad Latin: it was, however, very common, and is even used by Joseph Scaliger, as Vossius mentions in his treatise, De Vitiis Sermonis.

Jewish theory of natural law. 26. The origin of natural law was not drawn by the Jews, as some of the jurists imagined it ought to be, from the habits and instincts of all animated beings, quod natura omnia animalia docuit, according to the definition of the Pandects. Nor did they deem, as many have done, the consent of mankind and common customs of nations to be a sufficient basis for so permanent and invariable a standard. Upon the discrepancy of moral sentiments and practices among mankind Selden enlarges in the tone which Sextus Empiricus had taught scholars, and which the world had learned from Montaigne. Nor did unassisted reason seem equal to determine moral questions, both from its natural feebleness, and because reason alone does not create an obligation, which depends wholly on the command of a superior.[331] But God, as the ruler of the universe, has partly implanted in our minds, partly made known to us by exterior revelation, his own will, which is our law. These positions he illustrates with a superb display of erudition, especially oriental, and certainly with more prolixity, and less regard to opposite reasonings, than we should desire.

[331] Selden says, in his Table Talk, that he can understand no law of nature but a law of God. He might mean this in the sense of Suarez, without denying an intrinsic distinction of right and wrong.

Seven precepts of the sons of Noah. 27. The Jewish writers concur in maintaining that certain short precepts of moral duty were orally enjoined by God on the parent of mankind, and afterwards on the sons of Noah. Whether these were simply preserved by tradition, or whether, by an innate moral faculty, mankind had the power of constantly discerning them, seems to have been an unsettled point. The principal of these divine rules are called, for distinction, The Seven Precepts of the Sons of Noah. There appears, however, to be some variance in the lists, as Selden has given them from the ancient writers. That most received consists of seven prohibitions—namely, of idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, theft, rebellion, and cutting a limb from a living animal. The last of these, the sense of which, however, is controverted, as well as the third, but no other, are indicated in the ninth chapter of Genesis.

Character of Selden’s work. 28. Selden pours forth his unparalleled stores of erudition on all these subjects, and upon those which are suggested in the course of his explanations. These digressions are by no means the least useful part of his long treatise. They elucidate some obscure passages of Scripture. But the whole works belongs far more to theological than to philosophical investigation; and I have placed it here chiefly out of conformity to usage; for undoubtedly Selden, though a man of very strong reasoning faculties, had not greatly turned them to the principles of natural law. His reliance on the testimony of Jewish writers, many of them by no means ancient, for those primæval traditions as to the sons of Noah, was in the character of his times, but it will scarcely suit the more rigid criticism of our own. His book, however, is excellent for its proper purpose, that of representing Jewish opinion, and is among the greatest achievements in erudition that any English writer has performed.

Grotius and Hobbes. 29. The moral theories of Grotius and Hobbes are so much interwoven with other parts of their philosophy, in the treatise De Jure Belli and in the Leviathan, that it would be dissecting those works too much, were we to separate what is merely ethical from what falls within the provinces of politics and jurisprudence. The whole must therefore be deferred to the ensuing sections of this chapter. Nor is there much in the [Pg 529] writings of Bacon or of Descartes which falls, in the sense we have hitherto been considering it, under the class of moral philosophy. We may therefore proceed to another description of books, relative to the passions and manners of mankind, rather than, in a strict sense, to their duties, though of course there will frequently be some intermixture of subjects so intimately allied.

Charron on Wisdom. 30. In the year 1601, Peter Charron, a French ecclesiastic, published his Treatise on Wisdom. The reputation of this work has been considerable; his countrymen are apt to name him with Montaigne; and Pope has given him the epithet of “more wise” than his predecessor, on account, as Warburton expresses it, of his “moderating everywhere the extravagant Pyrrhonism of his friend.” It is admitted that he has copied freely from the Essays of Montaigne, in fact, a very large portion of the Treatise on Wisdom, not less, I should conjecture, than one fourth, is extracted from them with scarce any verbal alteration. It is not the case that he moderates the sceptical tone which he found there; on the contrary, the most remarkable passages of that kind have been transcribed; but we must do Charron the justice to say that he has retrenched the indecencies, the egotism, and the superfluities. Charron does not dissemble his debts. “This,” he says in his preface, “is the collection of a part of my studies; the form and method are my own. What I have taken from others, I have put in their words, not being able to say it better than they have done.” In the political part he has borrowed copiously from Lipsius and Bodin, and he is said to have obligations to Duvair.[332] The ancients also must have contributed their share. It becomes therefore difficult to estimate the place of Charron as a philosopher, because we feel a good deal of uncertainty whether any passage may be his own. He appears to have been a man formed in the school of Montaigne, not much less bold in pursuing the novel opinions of others, but less fertile in original thoughts, so that he often falls into the common-places of ethics; with more reading than his model, with more disciplined habits as well of arranging and distributing his subject, as of observing the sequence of an argument; but, on the other hand, with far less of ingenuity in thinking and of sprightliness of language.

[332] Biogr. Universelle.

La Mothe le Vayer—His dialogues. 31. A writer of rather less extensive celebrity than Charron belongs full as much to the school of Montaigne, though he does not so much pillage his Essays. This was La Mothe le Vayer, a man distinguished by his literary character in the court of Louis XIII., and ultimately preceptor both to the Duke of Orleans and the young king (Louis XIV.) himself. La Mothe was habitually and universally a sceptic. Among several smaller works we may chiefly instance his Dialogues published many years after his death under the name of Horatius Tubero. They must have been written in the reign of Louis XIII., and belong therefore to the present period. In attacking every established doctrine, especially in religion, he goes much farther than Montaigne, and seems to have taken much of his metaphysical system immediately from Sextus Empiricus. He is profuse of quotation, especially in a dialogue entitled Le Banquet Sceptique, the aim of which is to show that there is no uniform taste of mankind as to their choice of food. His mode of arguing against the moral sense is entirely that of Montaigne, or, if there be any difference, is more full of the two fallacies by which that lively writer deceives himself—namely, the accumulating examples of things arbitrary and fanciful, such as modes of dress and conventional usages, with respect to which no one pretends that any natural law can be found, and, when he comes to subjects more truly moral, the turning our attention solely to the external action, and not to the motive or principle, which under different circumstances may prompt men to opposite courses.

32. These dialogues are not unpleasing to read, and exhibit a polite though rather pedantic style not uncommon in the seventeenth century. They are, however, very diffuse, and the sceptical paradoxes become merely common-place by repetition. One of them is more grossly indecent than any part of Montaigne. La Mothe le Vayer is not, on the whole, much to be admired as a philosopher; little appears to be his own and still less is really good. He contributed, no question, as much as anyone to the irreligion and contempt for morality prevailing in that court where he was in high reputation. Some other works of this author may be classed under the same description.

Bacon’s Essays. 33. We can hardly refer Lord Bacon’s Essays to the school of Montaigne, though their title may lead us to suspect that they were in some measure suggested by that most [Pg 530] popular writer. The first edition, containing ten essays only, and those much shorter than as we now possess them, appeared, as has been already mentioned, in 1597. They were reprinted with very little variation in 1606. But the enlarged work was published in 1612, and dedicated to Prince Henry. He calls them, in this dedication, “certain brief notes, set down rather significantly than curiously, which I have called Essays. The word is late, but the thing is ancient; for Seneca’s Epistles to Lucilius, if you mark them well, are but Essays, that is, dispersed meditations, though conveyed in the form of epistles.” The resemblance, at all events, to Montaigne is not greater than might be expected in two men equally original in genius, and entirely opposite in their characters and circumstances. One, by an instinctive felicity, catches some of the characteristics of human nature; the other, by profound reflection, scrutinizes and dissects it. One is too negligent for the inquiring reader, the other too formal and sententious for one who seeks to be amused. We delight in one, we admire the other; but this admiration has also its own delight. In one we find more of the sweet temper and tranquil contemplation of Plutarch, in the other more of the practical wisdom and somewhat ambitious prospects of Seneca. It is characteristic of Bacon’s philosophical writings, that they have in them a spirit of movement, a perpetual reference to what man is to do in order to an end, rather than to his mere speculation upon what is. In his Essays, this is naturally still more prominent. They are, as quaintly described in the title page of the first edition, “places (loci) of persuasion and dissuasion;” counsels for those who would be great as well as wise. They are such as sprang from a mind ardent in two kinds of ambition, and hesitating whether to found a new philosophy, or to direct the vessel of the state. We perceive, however, that the immediate reward attending greatness, as is almost always the case, gave it a preponderance in his mind; and hence, his Essays are more often political than moral; they deal with mankind, not in their general faculties or habits, but in their mutual strife, their endeavours to rule others, or to avoid their rule. He is more cautious and more comprehensive, though not more acute than Machiavel, who often becomes too dogmatic through the habit of referring everything to a particular aspect of political societies. Nothing in the Prince or the Discourses on Livy is superior to the Essays on Seditions, on Empire, on Innovations, or generally those which bear on the dexterous management of a people by their rulers. Both these writers have what to our more liberal age appears a counselling of governors for their own rather than their subjects’ advantage; but, as this is generally represented to be the best means, though not, as it truly is, the real end, their advice tends on the whole to advance the substantial benefits of government.

Their excellence. 34. The transcendent strength of Bacon’s mind is visible in the whole tenor of these Essays, unequal as they must be from the very nature of such compositions. They are deeper and more discriminating than any earlier, or almost any later work in the English language, full of recondite observation long matured and carefully sifted. It is true that we might wish for more vivacity and ease; Bacon, who had much wit, had little gaiety; his Essays are consequently stiff and grave, where the subject might have been touched with a lively hand; thus it is in those on Gardens and on Building. The sentences have sometimes too apophthegmatic a form and want coherence; the historical instances, though far less frequent than with Montaigne, have a little the look of pedantry to our eyes. But it is from this condensation, from this gravity, that the work derives its peculiar impressiveness. Few books are more quoted, and, what is not always the case with such books, we may add that few are more generally read. In this respect they lead the van of our prose literature; for no gentleman is ashamed of owning that he has not read the Elizabethan writers; but it would be somewhat derogatory to a man of the slightest claim to polite letters, were he unacquainted with the Essays of Bacon. It is indeed little worth while to read this or any other book for reputation sake; but very few in our language so well repay the pains, or afford more nourishment to the thoughts. They might be judiciously introduced, with a small number more, into a sound method of education, one that should make wisdom, rather than mere knowledge, its object, and might become a textbook of examination in our schools.

Feltham’s Resolves. 35. It is rather difficult to fix upon the fittest place for bringing forward some books, which, though moral in their subject, belong to the general literature of the age, and we might strip the province of polite letters [Pg 531] of what have been reckoned its chief ornaments. I shall therefore select here such only, as are more worthy of consideration for their matter than for the style in which it is delivered. Several that might range, more or less, under the denomination of moral essays, were published both in English and in other languages. But few of them are now read, or even much known by name. One, which has made a better fortune than the rest, demands mention, the Resolves of Owen Feltham. Of this book, the first part of which was published in 1627, the second not till after the middle of the century, it is not uncommon to meet with high praises in those modern writers, who profess a faithful allegiance to our older literature. For myself, I can only say that Feltham appears not only a laboured and artificial, but a shallow writer. Among his many faults none strikes me more than a want of depth, which his pointed and sententious manner renders more ridiculous. Sallust, among the ancients, is a great dealer in such oracular truisms, a style of writing that soon becomes disagreeable. There are certainly exceptions to this vacuity of original meaning in Feltham; it would be possible to fill a few pages with extracts not undeserving of being read, with thoughts just and judicious, though never deriving much lustre from his diction. He is one of our worst writers in point of style; with little vigour, he has less elegance; his English is impure to an excessive degree, and full of words unauthorised by any usage. Pedantry, and the novel phrases which Greek and Latin etymology was supposed to warrant, appear in most productions of this period; but Feltham attempted to bend the English idiom to his own affectations. The moral reflections of a serious and thoughtful mind are generally pleasing, and to this perhaps is partly owing the kind of popularity which the Resolves of Feltham have obtained; but they may be had more agreeably and profitably in other books.[333]

[333] This is a random sample of Feltham’s style: “Of all objects of sorrow a distressed king is the most pitiful, because it presents us most the frailty of humanity, and cannot but most midnight the soul of him that is fallen. The sorrows of a deposed king are like the distorquements of a darted conscience which none can know but he that hath lost a crown.” Cent. i. 61. We find not long after the following precious phrase: “The nature that is arted with the subtleties of time and practice.” I. 63. In one page we have obnubilate, nested, parallel (as a verb), fails (failings) uncurtain, depraving (calumniating). I. 50. And we are to be disgusted with such vile English, or properly no English, for the sake of the sleepy saws of a trivial morality. Such defects are not compensated by the better and more striking thoughts we may occasionally light upon. In reading Feltham, nevertheless, I seemed to perceive some resemblance to the tone and way of thinking of the Turkish Spy, which is a great compliment to the former; for the Turkish Spy is neither disagreeable nor superficial. The resemblance must lie in a certain contemplative melancholy, rather serious than severe, in respect to the world and its ways; and as Feltham’s Resolves seem to have a charm, by the editions they have gone through, and the good name they have gained, I can only look for it in this.

Browne’s Religo Medici. 36. A superior genius to that of Feltham is exhibited in the Religio Medici of Sir Thomas Browne. This little book made a remarkable impression; it was soon translated into several languages, and is highly extolled by Conringius and others, who could only judge through these versions. Patin, though he rather slights it himself, tells us in one of his letters that it was very popular at Paris. The character which Johnson has given of the Regligio Medici is well known; and, though perhaps rather too favourable, appears in general just.[334] The mind of Browne was fertile, and, according to the current use of the word, ingenious: his analogies are original and sometimes brilliant; and as his learning is also of things out of the beaten path, this gives a peculiar and uncommon air to all his writings, and especially to the Regligio Medici. He was, however, far removed from real philosophy, both by his turn of mind and by the nature of his erudition; he seldom reasons, his thoughts are desultory, sometimes he appears sceptical or paradoxical, but credulity and deference to authority prevail. He belonged to the class, numerous at that time in our church, who halted between popery and protestantism; and this gives him, on all such topics, an appearance of vacillation and irresoluteness which probably represents the real state of his mind. His paradoxes do not seem very original, nor does he arrive at them by any process of argument; they are more like traces of his reading casually suggesting [Pg 532] themselves, and supported by his own ingenuity. His style is not flowing, but vigorous; his choice of words not elegant, and even approaching to barbarism as English phrase; yet there is an impressiveness, an air of reflection and sincerity in Browne’s writings, which redeem many of their faults. His egotism is equal to that of Montaigne, but with this difference, that it is the egotism of a melancholy mind, which generally becomes unpleasing. This melancholy temperament is characteristic of Browne. “Let’s talk of graves and worms and epitaphs” seems his motto. His best written work, the Hydriotaphia, is expressly an essay on sepulchral urns; but the same taste for the circumstances of mortality leavens also the Religio Medici.

[334] “The Regligio Medici was no sooner published that it excited the attention of the public by the novelty of paradoxes, the dignity of sentiment, the quick succession of images, the multitude of abstruse allusions, the subtlety of disquisition, and the strength of language.” Life of Browne (in Johnson’s Works, xii. 275).

Selden’s Table Talk. 37. The thoughts of Sir Walter Raleigh on moral prudence are few but precious. And some of the bright sallies of Selden recorded in his Table Talk are of the same description, though the book is too miscellaneous to fall under any single head of classification. The editor of this very short and small volume, which gives, perhaps, a more exalted notion of Selden’s natural talents than any of his learned writings, requests the reader to distinguish times, and “in his fancy to carry along with him the when and the why many of these things were spoken.” This intimation accounts for the different spirit in which he may seem to combat the follies of the prelates at one time, and of the presbyterians or fanatics at another. These sayings are not always, apparently, well reported; some seem to have been misunderstood, and in others the limiting clauses to have been forgotten. But on the whole they are full of vigour, raciness, and a kind of scorn of the half-learned, far less rude, but more cutting than that of Scaliger. It has been said that the Table Talk of Selden is worth all the Ana of the continent. In this I should be disposed to concur; but they are not exactly works of the same class.

Osborn’s Advice to his Son. 38. We must now descend much lower, and could find little worth remembering. Osborn’s Advice to his Son may be reckoned among the moral and political writings of this period. It is not very far above mediocrity, and contains a good deal that is common-place, yet with a considerable sprinkling of sound sense and observation. The style is rather apophthegmatic, though by no means more so than was then usual.

John Valentine Andreæ. 39. A few books, English as well as foreign, are purposely deferred for the present; I am rather apprehensive that I shall be found to have overlooked some not unworthy of notice. One written in Latin by a German writer has struck me as displaying a spirit which may claim for it a place among the livelier and lighter class, though with serious intent, of moral essays. John Valentine Andreæ was a man above his age, and a singular contrast to the narrow and pedantic herd of German scholars and theologians. He regarded all things around him with a sarcastic but benevolent philosophy, keen in exposing the errors of mankind, yet only for the sake of amending them. It has been supposed by many that he invented the existence of the famous Rosicrucian society, not so much, probably, for the sake of mystification, as to suggest an institution so praiseworthy and philanthropic as he delineated for the imitation of mankind. This, however, is still a debated problem in Germany.[335] But among his numerous writings, that alone of which I know anything is entitled in the original Latin, Mythologiæ Christianæ, sive Virtutum et Vitiorum Vitæ Humanæ Imaginum Libri Tres. (Strasburg, 1618.) Herder has translated a part of this book in the fifth volume of his Zerstreute Blätter; and it is here that I have met with it. Andreæ wrote, I believe, solely in Latin, and his works appear to be scarce, at least in England. These short apologues, which Herder has called Parables, are written with uncommon terseness of language, a happy and original vein of invention, and a philosophy looking down on common life without ostentation and without passion. He came too before Bacon, but he had learned to scorn the disputes of the schools, and had sought for truth with an entire love, even at the hands of Cardan and Campanella. I will give a specimen, in a note, of the peculiar manner of Andreæ, but my translation does not, perhaps, justice to that of Herder. The idea, it may be observed, is now become more trite.[336]

[335] Brucker, iv. 735. Biogr. Univ. art. Andreæ, et alibi.

[336] “The Pen and the Sword strove with each other for superiority, and the voices of the judges were divided. The men of learning talked much and persuaded many; the men of arms were fierce and compelled many to join their side. Thus nothing could be determined; it followed that both were left to fight it out, and settle their dispute in single combat.

“On one side books rustled in the libraries, on the other arms rattled in the arsenals; men looked on in hope and fear, and waited the end.

“The Pen, consecrated to truth, was notorious for much falsehood; the Sword, a servant of God, was stained with innocent blood: both hoped for the aid of heaven, both found its wrath.

“The State, which had need of both, and disliked the manners of both, would put on the appearance of caring for the weal and woe of neither. The Pen was weak, but quick, glib, well exercised, and very bold, when one provoked it. The Sword was stern, implacable, but less compact and subtle, so that on both sides the victory remained uncertain. At length for the security of both, the common weal pronounced that both in turn should stand by her side and bear with each other. For that only is a happy country where the Pen and the Sword are faithful servants, not where either governs by its arbitrary will and passion.”

If the touches in this little piece are not always clearly laid on, it may be ascribed as much, perhaps, to their having passed through two translations, as to the fault of the excellent writer. But in this early age we seldom find the entire neatness and felicity which later times attained.

[Pg 533] Sect. II.


Change in the Character of political Writings—Bellenden and others—Patriarchal Theory refuted by Suarez—Allhusius—Political Economy of Serra—Hobbes—and Analysis of his political Treatises.

40. The recluse philosopher, who, like Descartes in his country-house near Utrecht, investigates the properties of quantity, or the operations of the human mind, while nations are striving for conquest and factions for ascendancy, hears that tumultuous uproar but as the dash of the ocean waves at a distance, and it may even serve, like music that falls upon the poet’s ear, to wake in him some new train of high thought, or at the least to confirm his love of the absolute and the eternal, by comparison with the imperfection and error that besets the world. Such is the serene temple of philosophy, which the Roman poet has contrasted with the storm and the battle, with the passions of the great and the many, the perpetual struggle of man against his fellows. But if he who might dwell on this vantage-ground descends into the plain, and takes so near a view of the world’s strife, that he sees it as a whole very imperfectly, while the parts to which he approaches are magnified beyond their proportion, if, especially, he mingles with the combat, and shares its hopes and its perils, though in many respects he may know more than those who keep aloof, he will lose something of that faculty of equal and comprehensive vision, in which the philosophical temper consists. Such has very frequently, or more or less, perhaps, in almost every instance, been the fate of the writer on general politics; if his pen has not been solely employed with a view to the questions that engage attention in his own age, it has generally been guided in a certain degree by regard to them.

Abandonment of anti-monarchical theories. 41. In the sixteenth century, we have seen that notions of popular rights, and of the amissibility of sovereign power for misconduct, were alternately broached by the two great religious parties of Europe, according to the necessity in which they stood for such weapons against their adversaries. Passive obedience was preached as a duty by the victorious, rebellion was claimed as a right by the vanquished. The history of France and England, and partly of other countries, was the clue to these politics. But in the following period, a more tranquil state of public opinion, and a firmer hand upon the reigns of power, put an end to such books as those of Languet, Buchanan, Rose, and Mariana. The last of these, by the vindication of tyrannicide in his treatise De Rege, contributed to bring about a reaction in political literature. The Jesuits in France, whom Henry IV. was inclined to favour, publicly condemned the doctrine of Mariana in 1606. A book by Becanus, and another by Suarez, justifying regicide, were condemned by the parliament of Paris, in 1612.[337] The assassination indeed of Henry IV., committed by one, not perhaps metaphysically speaking sane, but whose aberration of intellect had evidently been either brought on or nourished by the pernicious theories of that school, created such an abhorrence of the doctrine, that neither the Jesuits nor others ventured afterwards to teach it. Those also who magnified, as far as circumstances would permit, the alleged supremacy of the See of Rome over temporal princes, were little inclined to set up, like Mariana, a popular sovereignty, a right of the multitude not emanating from the Church, and to which the Church itself might one day be under the necessity of submitting. This became therefore a period favourable to the theories of absolute power; not so much shown by means of their positive assertion through the press as by the silence of the press, comparatively speaking, on all political theories whatever.

[337] Mezeray, Hist. de la Mère et du Fils.

Political literature becomes historical. 42. The political writings of this part of the seventeenth century assumed in consequence more of an historical, or, as we [Pg 534] might say, a statistical character. Learning was employed in systematic analyses of ancient or modern forms of government, in dissertations explanatory of institutions, in copious and exact statements of the true, rather than arguments upon the right or the expedient. Some of the very numerous works of Herman Conringius, a professor at Helmstadt, seem to fall within this description. But none are better known than a collection, made by the Elzevirs, at different times near the middle of this century, containing accounts, chiefly published before, of the political constitutions of European commonwealths. This collection, which is in volumes of the smallest size, may be called for distinction the Elzevir Republics. It is very useful in respect of the knowledge of facts it imparts, but rarely contains anything of a philosophical nature. Statistical descriptions of countries are much allied to these last; some indeed are included in the Elzevir series. They were as yet not frequent; but I might have mentioned in the last volume one of the earliest, the Description of the Low Countries by Ludovico Guicciardini, brother of the historian.

Bellenden de Statu. 43. Those, however, were not entirely wanting who took a more philosophical view of the social relations of mankind. Among these a very respectable place should be assigned to a Scotsman, by name Bellenden, whose treatise De Statu, in three books, is dedicated to Prince Charles in 1615. The first of these books is entitled De Statu prisci orbis in religione, re politica et literis; the second, Ciceronis Princeps, sive de statu principis et imperii; the third, Ciceronis Consul, Senator, Senatusque Romanus, sive de statu reipublicæ et urbis imperantis orbi. The first two books are, in a general sense, political; the last relates entirely to the Roman polity, but builds much political precept on this. Bellenden seems to have taken a more comprehensive view of history in his first book, and to have reflected more philosophically on it, than perhaps anyone had done before; at least I do not remember any work of so early an age which reminds me so much of Vico and the Grandeur et Decadence of Montesquieu. We can hardly make an exception for Bodin, because the Scot is so much more regularly historical, and so much more concise. The first book contains little more than forty pages. Bellenden’s learning is considerable and without that pedantry of quotation which makes most books of the age intolerable. The latter parts have less originality and reach of thought. This book was reprinted, as is well known, in 1787; but the celebrated preface of the editor has had the effect of eclipsing the original author; Parr was constantly read and talked of, Bellenden never.

Campanella’s Politics. 44. The Politics of Campanella are warped by a desire to please the court of Rome, which he recommends as fit to enjoy an universal monarchy, at least by supreme control, and observes with some acuteness, that no prince had been able to obtain an universal ascendant over Christendom, because the presiding vigilance of the Holy See has regulated their mutual contentions, exalting one and depressing another, as seemed expedient for the good of religion.[338] This book is pregnant with deep reflection on history, it is enriched, perhaps, by the study of Bodin, but is much more concise. |La Mothe le Vayer.| In one of the Dialogues of La Mothe le Vayer, we find the fallacy of some general maxims in politics drawn from a partial induction well exposed, by showing the instances where they have wholly failed. Though he pays high compliments to Louis XIII. and to Richelieu, he speaks freely enough, in his sceptical way, of the general advantages of monarchy.

[338] Nullus hactenus Christianus princeps monarchiam super cunctos Christianos populos sibi conservare potuit. Quoniam papa præ est illis, et dissipat erigitque illorum conatus prout religioni expedit. C. 8.

Naudé’s Coups d’Etat 45. Gabriel Naudé, a man of extensive learning, acute understanding, and many good qualities, but rather lax in religious and moral principle, excited some attention by a very small volume, entitled Considerations sur les coups d’état, which he wrote while young, at Rome, in the service of the Cardinal de Bagne. In this he maintains the bold contempt of justice and humanity in political emergencies which had brought disgrace on the Prince of Machiavel, blaming those who, in his own country, had abandoned the defence of the St. Bartholomew massacre. The book is in general heavy and not well written, but coming from a man of cool head, clear judgment and considerable historical knowledge, it contains some remarks not unworthy of notice.

Patriarchal theory of government. 46. The ancient philosophers, the civil lawyers, and by far the majority of later writers had derived the origin of government from some agreement, or tacit [Pg 535] consent, of the community. Bodin, explicitly rejecting this hypothesis, referred it to violent usurpation. But, in England, about the beginning of the reign of James, a different theory gained ground with the church; it was assumed, for it did not admit of proof, that a patriarchal authority had been transferred by primogeniture to the heir-general of the human race; so that kingdoms were but enlarged families, and an indefeasible right of monarchy was attached to their natural chief, which, in consequence of the impossibility of discovering him, developed upon the representative of the first sovereign who could be historically proved to have reigned over any nation. This had not perhaps hitherto been maintained at length in any published book, but will be found to have been taken for granted in more than one. It was of course in favour with James I., who had a very strong hereditary title; and it might seem to be countenanced by the fact of Highland and Irish clanship, which does really affect to rest on a patriarchal basis.

Refuted by Suarez. 47. This theory as to the origin of political society, or one akin to it, appears to have been espoused by some on the Continent. Suarez, in the second book of his great work on law, observes in a remarkable passage, that certain canonists hold civil magistracy to have been conferred by God on some prince, and to remain always in his heirs by succession; but “that such an opinion has neither authority nor foundation. For this power, by its very nature, belongs to no one man, but to a multitude of men. This is a certain conclusion, being common to all our authorities as we find by St. Thomas, by the civil laws, and by the great canonists and casuists; all of whom agree that the prince has that power of lawgiving which the people have given him. And the reason is evident, since all men are born equal, and consequently no one has a political jurisdiction over another, nor any dominion; nor can we give any reason from the nature of the thing, why one man should govern another rather than the contrary. It is true that one might alledge the primacy which Adam at his creation necessarily possessed, and hence deduce his government over all men, and suppose that to be derived by some one, either through primogenitary descent, or through the special appointmen