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of gouty concretions, which firft afcertained the analogy long fufpected between gout and ftone; and, befides giving the first analysis of thofe concretions which had ever been experimentally attempted, he alfo firft (with the able affiitance of Mr Tennant, a name far too well known to need the humble tribute of our admiration) investigated the compofition of the calculi, confifting of neutral falts. The difcovery of Scheele, perhaps his moit important difcovery, brought to light the nature of uric calculi; and, at the fame time, made us acquainted with a new acid. The existence of this acid was fufpected in gouty concretions; and it was generally imagined that they confifted of the acid alone, or combined with animal matter only. Dr Woollafton fhowed by experiment that they are compofed, of uric acid and foda. Until he carried his inquiries into the other claffes of calculi, it was only by conjecture or vague analogies that their conftitution was known; but to him we owe as perfect an acquaintance with their component parts, as Scheele had left us of the uric calculus. Having thus completed our analysis of the calculi formerly known, he has, in his prefent communication, brought to light both a new calculus, and a new body. His former paper was published in the Philofophical Transactions for 1797; and the one now before us forms an important appendix to it. It is not within our province to take any further notice of the first tract; but we could not conclude this article without recalling it to the recollection of the fcientific reader, and reminding him of his great obligations to Dr Woollafton.
ART. IX. Philosophical Essays. By Dugald Stewart esq. F. R.S. Edinburgh, Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, &c. &c. 4to. pp. 590. Edinburgh,
THE HE studies to which Mr Stewart has devoted himself, have lately fallen out of favour with the English public; and the nation which once placed the name of Locke immediately under those of Shakespeare and of Newton, and has since repaid the metaphysical labours of Berkeley and of Hume with such just celebrity, seems now to be almost without zeal or curiosity as to the progress of the Philosophy of Mind.
See also a valuable collection of historical notices, as well as analytical researches, on Urinary Concretions, in Dr George Pearson's paper, Phil. Trans. 1798, Part I.
The causes of this distaste it would be curious, and probably not uninstructive, to investigate: but the inquiry would be laborious, and perhaps not very satisfactory. It is easy, indeed, to say, that the age has become frivolous and impatient of labour; and has abandoned this, along with all other good learning, and every pursuit that requires concentration of thought, and does not lead to immediate distinction. This is satire, and not reasoning; and, were it even a fair statement of the fact, such a revolution in the intellectual habits and character of a nation, is itself a phenomenon to be accounted for,—and not to be accounted for upon light or shallow consideration. To us, the phenomenon, in so far as we are inclined to admit its existence, has always appeared to arise from the great multiplication of the branches of liberal study, and from the more extensive diffusion of knowledge among the body of the people,-and to constitute, in this way, a signal example of that compensation, by which the good and evil in our lot is constantly equalized, or reduced at least to no very variable
The progress of knowledge has given birth, of late years, to so many arts and sciences, that a man of liberal curiosity finds both sufficient occupation for his time, and sufficient exercise to his understanding, in acquiring a superficial knowledge of such as are most inviting and most popular; and, consequently, has much less leisure, and less inducement than formerly, to dedicate himself to those abstract studies which call for more patient and persevering attention. In older times, a man had nothing for it, but either to be absolutely ignorant and idle, or to take seriously to theology and the school logic. When things grew a little better, the classics and mathematics filled up the measure of general education and private study; and, in the most splendid periods of English philosophy, received little addition, but from the investigation of our intellectual and moral nature. Some few individuals might attend to other things; but a knowledge of these was all that was required of men of good education, and was held accomplishment enough to entitle them to the rank of scholars and philosophers. Now-a-days, however, the necessary qualification is prodigiously raised, at least in denomination; and a man can scarcely pass current in the informed circles of society, without knowing something of political economy, chemistry, mineralogy, geology and etymology, having a smail notion of painting, sculpTure, and architecture, with some sort of taste for the pictur esque, and a smattering of German and Spanish literature, and even some idea of Indian, Sanscrit and Chinese learning and history, over and above some little knowledge of trade and agriculture; with a reasonable acquaintance with what is called the philosophy
philosophy of politics, and a far more extensive knowledge of existing parties, factions, and eminent individuals, both literary and political, at home and abroad, than ever were required in any earlier period of society. The dissipation of time and of attention that is occasioned by these multifarious occupations, is, of course, very unfavourable to the pursuit of abstract or continued study; and even if a man could, for himself, be content to remain ignorant of many things, in order to obtain a profound knowledge of a few, it would be difficult for him, in the present state of the world, to resist the impulse and the seduction that assail him from without. Various and superficial knowledge is now not only so common, that the want of it is felt as a disgrace; but the facilities of acquiring it are so great, that it is scarcely possible to defend ourselves against its intrusion. So many easy and pleasant elementary books,-such tempting summaries, abstracts and tables,-such beautiful engravings, and ingenious charts and coups-d'œil of information,-so many museums, exhibitions and collections, meet us at every corner, and so much amusing and provoking talk in every party, that a taste for miscellaneous and imperfect information is formed, almost before we are aware, and our time and curiosity irrevocably devoted to a sort of Encyclopedical trifling.
In the mean time, the misfortune is, that there is no popular nor royal road to the profounder and more abstract truths of philosophy; and that these are apt, accordingly, to fall into discredit or neglect, at a period when it is labour enough for most men to keep themselves up to the level of that great tide of popular information, which has been rising, with such unexampled rapidity, for the last forty years.
Such, we think, are the most general and uncontrollable causes which have recently depressed all the sciences requiring deep thought and solitary application, far below the level of their actual importance; and produced the singular appearance of a partial falling off in intellectual enterprise and vigour, in an age distinguished, perhaps, above all others, for the rapid development of the human faculties. The effect we had formerly occasion to observe, when treating of the singular decay of mathematical science in England; and so powerful and extensive is the operation of the cause, that, even in the intellectual city which we inhabit, we have known instances of persons of good capacity who had never found leisure to go beyond the first elements of mathematical learning, and were even suspected of having fallen into several heresies in metaphysics, merely from want of time. to get regularly at the truth.
If the philosophy of mind has really suffered more, from this
universal hurry, than all her sister sciences of the same serious complexion, we should be inclined to ascribe this misfortune, partly to the very excellence of what has been already achieved by her votaries, and partly to the very severe treatment which their predecessors have received at their hands. Almost all the great practical maxims of this mistress of human life, such as the use of the principle of Association in education, and the generation and consequences of Habits in all periods of life, have been lately illustrated in the most popular and satisfactory manner, and rendered so clear and familiar, as rules of practical utility, that few persons think it necessary to examine into the details of that fine philosophy by which they may have been first suggested, or brought into notice. There is nothing that strikes one as very important to be known upon these subjects, which may not be established in a more vulgar and empirical manner,--or which requires, in order to be understood, that the whole process of a scientific investigation should be gone over. By most persons, therefore, the labour of such an investigation will be declined; and the practical benefits applied, with ungrateful indifference to the sources from which they were derived. Of those, again, whom curiosity might tempt to look a little closer upon this great field of wonders, no small part are dismayed at the scene of ruins which it exhibits. The destruction of antient errors, has hitherto constituted so very large a part of the task of modern philosophers, that they may be said to have been employed rather in throwing down, than in building up, and have as yet established very little but the fallacy of all former philosophy. Now, they who had been accustomed to admire that antient philosophy, cannot be supposed to be much delighted with its demolition; and at all events, are naturally discouraged from again attaching themselves to a system, which they may have the mortification of again seeing subverted. In their minds, therefore, the opening of such a course of study is apt only to breed a general distrust of philosophy, and to rivet a conviction of its extreme and irremediable uncertainty: while those who had previously been indifferent to the systems of error, are displeased with the labour of a needless refutation; and disappointed to find, that, after a long course of inquiry, they are brought back to that very state of ignorance from which they had expected it would relieve them.
If any thing could counteract the effect of these and some other causes, and revive in England that taste for abstract speculation for which it was once so distinguished, we should have expected this to be accomplished by the publications of the author before us.The great cel brity of his name, and the uniform clearness, simplicity and good sense of his statements, might in
deed have failed to attract those whom similar merits had never tempted to look into the pages of Locke or of Berkeley. But the singular eloquence with which Mr Stewart has contrived to adorn the most unpromising parts of his subject,-the rich lights which his imagination has every where thrown in with such inimitable judgment and effect,-the warm glow of moral enthusiasm which he has spread over the whole of his composition,-and the tone of mildness, dignity and animation which he has uniformly sustained, in controversy, as well as in instruction: are merits which we do not remember to have seen united in any other philosophical writer; and which might have recommended to general notice, topics far less engaging than those on which they were employed. His former work, on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, has accordingly been more read than any other modern book on such subjects; and the volume before us, we think, is calculated to be still more popular. 'By being cast into the form of detached essays. it absolves the reader from the labour of systematic study, and at the same time dispenses with all that preparatory and elementary detail, which was unavoidable in the outset of a regular system. It contains, besides a long and very eloquent Introduction, one series of Essays on subjects that are strictly Metaphysical,-Locke's Account of the Origin of our Knowledge, the Idealism of Berkeley, the Systems of Hartley, Darwin, Tooke, &c.; and another on subjects of a more popular, and, to most readers, of a more interesting character,on the Beautiful,--on the Sublime,--and on Taste. A considerable mass of Notes and Illustrations are added, in the form of an Appendix.
Though the arrangement which the author has adopted, is no doubt the most natural and scientific,-we could have wished, for the sake of his Southern readers, that the order of the two series of Essays had been inverted. Discussions upon Taste, and on the Beautiful, the Picturesque and the Sublime,-fall in, much more than pure Metaphysics, with the habits of the English literati; and though treated with a little more profundity than they are used to, could scarcely fail to make such an impression, with the aid of the admirable writing which Mr Stewart has here bestowed upon them, as to induce the better sort of readers to venture on, under such a guide, even into the idealism of Berkeley, and Mr Locke's genealogy of cur ideas. When such topics, however, are proposed to them in the outset, we doubt whether many will not shrink back altogether from the enterprise; and fear that some may even miss those parts of the volume from which they would have derived both instruction and delight, by their being placed