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cess of logic he makes himself futile; yet we cannot contest the supremacy it confers. And thus, looking back along the line of ages, there appears to us a line of great figures-figures almost more notable in their calm than those of the greatest practical agents the world has seen. Bacon, for example, in the rich Elizabethan age. The greatest of English poets is on the same scene, and with him a sovereign of personal
and mark, great statesmen, and
some of the most picturesque and noble gentlemen-Sidney, Raleigh, Essex-that ever adorned England. Yet, even in presence of Shakespeare
the concession grudgingly made by one has been annulled by his successor. Let one man afford us the cheering certainty that our sciousness is a reality, and that we can know and be sure that we live; another comes after him to declare, no: that Something lives of which we are a part; Something which we cannot understand, yet may believe; and that this Something is the sole universe. If one reality in the u grants us power of perceiving the image of things so truly as to be able to trust in our conception of them, another contradicts him with the assertion
it is difficult to say that Bacon is alone exist, while at the images
not the most illustrious-for his deeds? alas! no-his deeds damn the man-but because of his transcendent eminence as a philosopher. It is thought, and thought only, that gives him his supremacy. It is needless to pursue through history the names of those who have won on the same ground a long-enduring fame. Yet the science which has conferred this fame has become in modern times the most unsatisfactory, the least beneficial, the most unpractical of all knowledges. Amid the busy world, in which every man has his work to do and his burden to bear, to walk over real thorns that tear his flesh, and burning ploughshares that penetrate to the bone, the greatest thinkers have but lived to prove that nought is everything and everything is nought. Their researches have only led them to the conclusion that nothing can be found out. It is the labour of Sisyphus, never ending, still beginning, which has cast over them the mist of splendour through which posterity beholds them. Instead of expanding our horizon and bringing new truths to our knowledge, the only practical issue of their labours has been to reduce the number of our beliefs and make us uncertain of all things. Each new thinker who has risen in the world of modern philosophy has taken something from us. Even
we can have no assurance; and a third follows with the still more disheartening warning, that we must not trust even those images, our minds being like a adistorted mirror, full of false reflections. A discouraging, humiliating, unadvancing science, making progress, perhaps, in method and form, but, so far as result goes, arriving only at the conclusion that it is itself a delusion and impossibility. All other knowledges have contributed something to the common stock of human profit: human profit: philosophy alone has given us nothing. She has bidden us believe that we live as shadows in an unreal world that nature and all her glories are but the phantasmagoria of a dreamthat the skies and the winds are but so many notions of our own uneasy, restless brain. While we, the ignorant, have been roaming, not uncheerily, about a world full of sunshine and of moonlight, she has groped on from one darkness to another, losing a faculty, a faith, a scrap of feeble certainty, at every step. Such is the story as traced even by her own votaries. Yet it is this constantly-failing, constantlydissatisfied science which has given their chief title to immortality to some of the names most known and famous in the ordinary world.
Let it be understood, to begin with, that the present writer has no
neither from within nor from without is there any reply.
the bewildered spectator; and substance, whatever it was, really
The reigning philosophy of the time was that of Locke, when George Berkeley came into the world; one of those serious moderate compromises between two systems of which the English mind seems peculiarly capable. Reject ing as untenable the philosophy which deduced everything from individual consciousness, and yet not material enough to deny some power to the m mind itself in conjunction with the senses, Locke formed the conception of a double action always going on in those dark recesses of the human intellect which have never yet given forth their secret to any inquirer. His decision was, that though sense supplied the mind with all its materials, yet there was in the mind a certain power of reflection and rumination over the material supplied which made every final conclusion a joint process effected by two powers acting together experience bringing in the corn, but reflection grinding it in the mill. According to this theory, no innate principle, no intuitive certainty, belonged to man. True, he might move about among the phantasms of earth with a certain vulgar external sense of their reality, but to know any one thing exactly as it is, was for ever denied to him by laws immutable. His own ideas of things were all his possession; they might not even resemble the things themselves, and probably did not but they were all to which he could attain. The ground on which he walked presented to him certain appearances of verdure, beauty, solidity, various and extended surface; but these were but impressions made on his senses, combined and accumulated by his intellect,
And here the spectator who
thrill of warmer interest. The phi-
and not, so far as he knew ord- currents of existence.
earth in its own individuality. And yet the earth possessed an individuality, and the something, the
to his kind, full of
differing from the ordinary motives and looks like a kind of natural of the philosopher. Though there is punishment for this beautiful and no want of candour in his reasoning, touching disingenuousness, nor any disingenuous attempt at Berkeley's idealism holds the place the probation of any system dis- of a stepping-stone to the unmititinct from that The metaphysics, gated scepticism of Hume. atyof. there is a foregone conclusion es- strain was too great for the comsentially unphilosophical his mon mind, and produced a reaction; mind from the outset. It is "in and the assumption by the idealist opposition to sceptics and athe- of all power and perception to the ists"-it is "to promote not only intellect alone, provoked an exami"useful knowledge," but "re- nation of that intellect on the part ligion," that he gives forth his of the sceptic such as nothing philosophy to the world. This human can bear. But, we repeat, motive gives warmth and force to there is no disingenuousness in his words, and heightens every Berkeley's reasonings. They are energy of thought within him; but even pronounced to be (philosophiit is not the passionless search for cally) irrefutable-a fact which is truth, whatsoever that truth might no demonstration whatever, either happen to be, which is the ideal of their truth or of the cessation of temper of philosophy. One can other attempts equally irrefutable imagine the young man's nature (philosophically) to prove them at rising into a glow of pious enthu- once futile and foolish. So charmsiasm-high indignation with the ing is divine philosophy! frivolous doubting world around him a passion of lofty eagerness to change the spirit and atmosphere which fills his country and debases his age. Under all the measured composure of his demonstrations, this light of meaning glows subdued, like the sunshine through the golden-tinted marble which serves for windows, as many of our readers will remember, on that Florentine hill where San Miniato watches the dead. He is betrayed not by any act or even word, but by the intense still light of purpose and meaning in all his speculations. Each step he takes conducts him not into new and undiscovered lands, where each inch of space may, for ought he knows, contain a discovery, but, with a steady regularity and stateliness, to one great point at which he has aimed from the beginning. He has covered over the Cross on his buckler, and fights for
But the impression we derive of Berkeley as a man, in the first outburst of his powers, is by just so much the more attractive and lovable as this secret meaning within him` is unphilosophical. Such an ardent, impassioned, generous young soul, as those which, some forty years ago, facing the infidel world with all the fervour of youthful opposition made beautiful by piety, began that peaceful revolution in France, which has, alas! developed into Ultramontarism, and many things less lofty and lovely than Montalembert and Lacordaire; such a young knight of Christianity as about the same period the English Church gave birth to, among the earlier followers of Newman-to develop (again alas !) into Oratorists and Ritualists-was the Irish youth, fallen upon evil days for religion, surrounded by scepticism and that brutal freethinking which belonged to the eighteenth
in armour which bears noment century, reading Locke and Male
branche and the Grand Cyrus' in