Imatges de pàgina

it had all the imagination of Rouš say, as Rousseau fancies a child in like seau, without his folly and extrava- circumstances would say, that his parents gance.

made him.) I had now gained the point 6 The doctrines of religion,” said Beat- taught him (though he could not so express

I aimed at; and saw, that his reason tie, “ I had wished to impress on his mind, it) that what begins to be must have an inas soon as it might be prepared to receive them ; but I did not see the propriety of name of the Great Being who made him

telligent cause. I therefore told him the making him commit to memory theological and all the world; concerning whose adorsentences, or any sentences which it was not possible for him to anderstand. And I thought he could, in some measure, com

able nature I gave him such information as I was desirous to make a trial how far prehend. The lesson affected him greatly, his own reason could go in tracing out, and he never forgut either it or the cirwith a little direction, the great and first

cumstance that introduced it." principle of all religion, the being of God. The following fact is mentioned, not as a So great was the docility of this proof of superior sagacity in him (for I boy, that before he had reached his have no doubt that most children would, in twentieth year, he had been thought like circumstances, think as he did), bat capable of succeeding his father in merely as a moral or logical experiment his office of public professor. When He had reached his fifth or sixth year, death had extinguished these hopes, knew the alphabet, and could read a little; the comfort and expectation of the but had received no particular information with respect to the Author of his being: parent were directed to his only sur, because I thought he could not yet under viving child, wha, with less applistand such information; and because I had cation and patience, had yet a quicklearned, from my own experience, that to ness of perception that promised to be made to repeat words not understood, supply, the place of those qualities. is extremely detrimental to the faculties of But this prospect did not continue to a young mind. In a corner of a little gar- cheer him long. In March 1796, the den, without informing any person of the youth was attacked by a fever, which, circumstance, I wrote in the mould, with in seven days, laid him by the side my finger, the three initial letters of his of his brother. He was in his eighname; and sowing garden cresses in the fur- teenth year. The sole consolation, nows, covered up the seed, and smoothed the with which this world could now ground. Ten days after, he came running supply Beattie, was, that if his sons to me, and with astonishment in his coun tenance told me, that his name was grow

had lived, he might have seen them ing in the garden. I smiled at the report,

a prey to that miserable distemper and seemed inclined to disregard it; but under which their mother, whose he insisted on my going to see what had state had rendered a separation from happened. Yes," said I, carelessly, on her family unavoidable, was still lacoming to the place, ' I see it is so ; but bouring. From this total bereavement there is nothing in this worth notice; it is he sometimes found a short relief in mere chance ;' and I went away. He fol- the estrangement of his own mind, lowed me, and taking hold of my coat, said, which refused to support the recolwith some earnestness, “It could not be lection of such a load of sorrow. mere chance, for that somebody must have contrived matters so as to produce it? I Forbes, “ he could not recollect what

“ Many times," says Sir William pretend not to give his words, or my own; had become of his son; and after for I have forgotten both ; but I give the substance of what passed between us in searching in every room of the house, such language as we both understood. — he would say to his niece, “Mrs.

So you think,' I said, that what ap- Glennie, you may think it strange, pears so regular as the letters of your name but I must ask you, if I have a son, cannot be by chance.' • Yes,' said be, with and where he is." That man must firmness, • I think so.' ! Look at your be a stern moralist who would cenself,' I replied, and consider your hands sure him very severely for having and fingers, your legs and feet, and other sought, as he sometimes did, a relimbs ; are they not regular in their ap- newal of this oblivion in his He said,

cups. pearance, and useful to you?'

He was unable any longer to apply they were.'

Came you then hither,' said Í, - by chance?' No,' he answered, himself to study, and left most of the • that cannot be; something must have letters he received from his friends made me:' And who is that something?' unanswered. Music, in which he I asked. He said, he did not know.' had formerly delighted, he could not (I took particular notice, that he did not endure to hear from others, after the

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loss of his first son; though a few his Essay on Truth under his arm. months before the death of the se. At a little distance is introduced cond, he had begun to accompany the allegorical figure of Truth as an him when he sang, on his own fa- angel, holding in one hand a balance, vourite instrument, which was the and with the other thrusting back violoncello. Afterwards, as may be the visages of Prejudice, Scepticism, supposed, the sound of it was pain- and Folly. ful to him. He still took some plea- He is, I believe, the solitary insure in books, and in the company stance of a poet having received so of a very few amongst his oldest much countenance at the court of friends. This was his condition till George the Third ; and this favour the beginning of April 1799, when he owed less to any other cause than he was seized with a paralytic stroke, to the zeal and ability with which he which rendered his speech imperfect had been thought to oppose the enefor several days. During the rest of mies of religion. The respect with his life he had repeated attacks of which he was treated, both at home the same malady: the last, which and abroad, was no more than a just. happened on the 5th of October, 1802, tribute to those merits and the exentirely deprived him of motion. He cellence of his private character. His languished, however, till the 18th of probity and disinterestedness, the August in the following year, when extreme tenderness with which he nature being exhausted, he expired acquitted himself of all his domestic without a struggle.

duties, his attention to the improveHe was interred, according to his ment of his pupils, for whose welown desire, by the side of his two fare his solicitude did not cease with sons, in the church-yard of St. Nic their removal from the college ; his cholas, at Aberdeen, with the fol- unassuming deportment, which had lowing inscription from the pen of not been altered by prosperity or by the Dr. James Gregory, Professor of Phy- caresses of the learned and the powersic, at Edinburgh.

ful, his gratitude to those from whom Memoriæ. Sacram.

he had received favours, his bene

ficence to the poor, the ardour of his In. Academia. Marescallana. hujus. Urbis.

devotion, are dwelt on by his biographer with an earnestness which

leaves us no room to doubt the sinPietate. Probitate. Ingenio. atque. Doctrina. cerity of the encomium. His chief Scriptoris. Elegantissimi. Poetæ. Suavissimi. defect was an irritability of temper Philosophi. Vere. Christiani.

in the latter part of his life, which Natus. est. v. Nov. Aneo. MDCCXXXV. Obiit. XVIII. Aug. MDCCCIII.

showed itself principally towards Omnibus, Liberis. Orbus.

those who differed from him on speQuorum. Natu. Maximus. JACOBUS. HAY.

culative questions. Vel. a Puerilibus. Annis.

In his writings, he is to be conPatrio. Vigens. Ingenio. Novumque. Decus. Jam. Addens. Paterne. sidered as a philosopher, a critic,

and a poet. His pretensions in phiLenta. Tabe. Consumptus. Periit. Anno. Ætatis. XXIU.

losophy are founded on his Essay on GEO. ET. MAR, GLENNIE.

Truth. This book was of much use H.M.P.

at its first appearance, as it contained “ In his person,” says Sir William a popular answer to some of the inForbes, “ Doctor Beattie was of the fidel writers, who were then in better middle size, though not elegantly, odour among the more educated classes yet not awkwardly formed, but with of society than happily they now, something of a slonch in his gait. are. If (as I suspect to have been His eyes were black and piercing, the case) it has prevented men, whose with an expression of sensibility rank and influence make it most desomewhat bordering on melancholy, sirable that their minds should be except when engaged in cheerful and raised above the common pitch, from social intercourse with his friends, pursuing those studies by which when they were exceedingly ani- they were most likely so to raise mated.” In a portrait of him, taken them, the good which it may have in middle life by Reynolds, and given done has been balanced by no into him as a mark of his regard by considerable evil. One can scarcely the painter, he is represented with examine it with much attention, and



Per. XLIII. Annes.
Professoris. Meritissimi.




Suis. Carissimus. Patriæ. Flebilis.

not perceive that the writer had not fects. Human perceptions first open ascended to the sources of that sci- upon effects, and thence by slow deence, which, notwithstanding any grees ascend to causes." + thing he may say to the contrary, it His own definition might have was evidently his aim to depreciate. been enough to satisfy him that it Through great part of it he has the was something very harmless about appearance of one who is struggling which he had so much alarmed himwith some unknown power, which self. Still he proceeds to impute to he would fain comprehend, and at it I know not what mischief; till at which, in the failure to comprehend last, in a paroxysm of indignation, it, his terror is changed into anger. he exclaims, “Exult, О metaphysic, The word metaphysics, or, as he at the consummation of thy glories. oftener terms it, metaphysic, crosses More thou canst not hope, more thou him like a ghost. Call it pneuma- canst not desire.

Fall down, ye tology, the philosophy of the mind, mortals, and acknowledge the stuthe philosophy of human nature, or pendous blessing." what you will, and he can bear it. About Aristotle himself, he is

scarce in less perplexity. He sets Take any shape but that, and his firm nerves Shall never tremble.

out by defining truth according to

Aristotle's description of it in these Once, indeed, (but it is not till he fourteen dreaded books of his metahas reached the third and last divi- physics. Again he tells us, “ he is sion of the essay) he screws up his most admired by those who best uncourage so high as to question it con- derstand him ;" and once more refers cerning its name ; and the result of us to these fourteen books. But his inquiry is this: he finds that to afterwards it would seem as if he fourteen of the books attributed to had not himself read them; for Aristotle, which it seems had no ge- speaking of metaphysic, he calls it neral title, Andronicus Rhodius, who that which Aristotle is said to have edited them, prefixed the words, ta called theology, and the first philometa ta physica, that is, the books sophy; whereas Aristotle has expliplaced posterior to the physics; either citly called it so in these fourteen because, in the order of the former books ;and when he is recommend arrangement they happened to be so ing the study of the ancients, he placed, or because the editor meant adds: “ Of Aristotle, I say nothing. that they should be studied, next after We are assured by those who have the physics. And this, he concludes, is read his works, that no one ever unsaid to be the origin of the word me- derstood human nature better than taphysic. This is not very satisfac- he." What are we to infer from tory; and if the reader thinks so, he this, but that he had not himself read will, perhaps, be glad to hear those them? For his distinction between who, having dealt longer in the black common sense and reason, on which art, are more likely to be conjurors in all his theory depends, he sends the it. Harris, who had given so many reader to the fourth book Arisyears of his life to the study of Aris- totle's Metaphysics, and to the first totle, tells us, that Metaphysics of his latter Analyties; and yet are properly conversant about pri- somewhere else he speaks of these as mary and internal causes.”* “ Those the most worthless of Aristotle's things which are first to nature, are writings. As for Plato, whoʻon such not first to man. Nature begins from a subject might have come in for causes, and thence descends to ef

some consideration, we are told that * Philosophical Arrangements, c. xvii. P. 409, 8vo. ed.

+ Hermes, p. 9, 8vo. ed. The same writer again thus defines the word.“ By the most excellent science, is meant the science of causes, and, above all others, of causes. efficient

and final, as these necessarily imply pervading reason and superintending wis. dom. This science, as men were naturally led to it from the contemplation of effects, which effects were the tribe of beings natural or physical, was, from being thus subsequent to those physical inquiries, called metaphysical; but with a view to itself, and the transcendent eminence of its object

, was more properly called “ acurn pidocopix, the first Philosophy." Three treatiscs (in a note), p. 365. Ibid.–See also Mr. Coleridge's Friend, vol. i. p. 309.

# Metaph. 1. vi. c. I.

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he was as much a rhetorician as a my mind has been injured by certain philosopher; and this, I think, is speculations, you will partly guess nearly all we hear of him.

when I tell you a fact that is now Beattie is among the philosophers unknown to all the world, that since what the Quaker is among religious the Essay on Truth was printed, in sectaries. The wolvos vous, or com- quarto, in the summer of 1776, I mon sense, is the spirit whose illapses have never dared to read it over. I he sits down and waits for, and by durst not even read the sheets, and whose whispers alone he expects to see whether there were any errors in be made wise. It has sometimes, the print, and was obliged to get a prompted him well; for there are friend to do that office for me." admirable passages in the Essay. As he proceeded, he seems to have The whole train of his argument, or become more afraid of the faculty of rather his invective, in the second

In the second edition, he part, against the sceptics, is irresis-, had said, “ Did not our moral feeltible.

ings, in concert with what our reason Scalda ogni fredda lingua ardente voglia,

discovers of the Deity, evidence the E di sterili fa l'alme feconde.

necessity of a future state, in vain Ne mai deriva altronde

should we pretend to judge rationally Soave finme d'eloquenza rara.

of that revelation by which life

Celio Magno. and immortality have been brought “What comes from the heart, that to light.” In the edition of 1776, he alone goes to the heart," says a softened down this assertion so much, great writer of our own day; and as almost to deprive it of meaning. there are few instances of this more “ Did not our moral feelings, in conconvincing than the vehemence with cert with what reason discovers of which Beattie dissipates the reveries the Deity, evidence the probability of of Berkeley, and refutes the absur- a future state, and that it is necesdities of Hume.

sary to the full vindication of the In the second edition, (1711) divine government, we should be much speaking of those writers of genius, less qualified than we now are to to whom he would send the student judge rationally of that revelation away from the metaphysicians, he by which life and immortality have confined himself to Shakspeare, Ba- been brought to light.” There was con, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. surely nothing, except perhaps the Few will think that other names word necessity, that was objectionmight not well have replaced the last able in the proposition as it first of these. In the fourth edition, we stood. find Johnson added to the list. This It may be remarked of his prose compliment met with a handsome style in general, that it is not free requital; for Johnson, soon after from that constraint which he, with having occasion to speak of Beattie, much candour, admitted was to be in his Life of Gray, called him a found in the writings of his countrypoet, a philosopher, and a good man. men.

In his Essay, he comforts himself Of his critical works, I have seen with the belief that he had enabled only those appended to the edition every person of common sense to of his Essay, in 1776. Though not defeat the more important fallacies deficient in acuteness, they have not of the sceptical metaphysicians, even learning or elegance enough to make though he should not possess acute-' one desirous of seeing more. His ness, or metaphysical knowledge, suf- remarks on the characters in Homer ficient to qualify him for a logical are, I think, the best part of them. refutation of them.” It is lament. He sometimes talks of what he proable to see at how great a cost to bably knew little about; as when he himself he had furnished every per- tells us that “ he had never been son of common sense with these able to discover any thing in Arisweapons of proof. In a letter to Sir tophanes that might not be conWilliam Forbes, written not long signed to eternal oblivion, without after, he makes the following re- the least detriment to literature; markable, confession. “ How much that “ his wit and humour are now

• Jr. Coleridge.

become almost invisible, and seem objected to one word, garniture, “as never to have been very conspicu- suggesting - an idea of dress, and, ous ;” with more, that is equally what was worse, of French dress; absurd, to the same purpose.

and the author tried, but tried in The few of his poems which he vain, to substitute another. It would, thought worthy of being selected perhaps, be impossible to find a betfrom the rest, and of being delivered ter for the place in which it stands. to posterity, have many readers, to There is no ground of censure which whom perhaps one recommendation a writer should admit with more of them is that they are few. They caution, than that a particular word have, however, and deservedly, some or phrase happens to suggest a ludiadmirers of a better stamp. They crous or unsuitable image to the soothe the mind with indistinct con- mind of another person. Few proceptions of something better than is bably would have thought of French met with in ordinary life. The first dress on this occasion; and to some, book of the Minstrel, the most a passage in our translation of the considerable amongst them, describes Bible might have occurred, where it with much fervour the enthusiasm of is said, that “the Lord garnished the a boy “smit with the love of song," heavens." Another of Gray's critiand wakened to a sense of rapture cisms fell on the word “ infuriate," by all that is most grand or lovely in as being a new one, although, as Sir the external appearances of nature. William Forbes remarks, it is found It is evident that the poet had felt not only in Thomson's Seasons, but much of what he describes, and he in the Paradise Lost. therefore makes his hearers feel it. The second book of the Minstrel Yet at times, it must be owned, he is not so pleasant as it is good. The seems as if he were lashing himself stripling wanders to the habitation into a state of artificial emotion, as of a hermit, who has a harp, not a in the following lines :

very usual companion for a hermit, 0! Nature, how in every charm supreme ! rects him what studies to pursue.

to amuse his solitude; and who diWhose votaries feast on raptures ever new! 0! for the voice and fire of seraphim,

The youth is pleased with no histoTo sing thy glories with devotion due !

rian except Plutarch. He reads

Homer and Virgil, and learns to mend We hear indeed, too often, of “na- his song; and the poet would have ture's charms."

told us how he learnt to sing still Even here he cannot let the meta- better, if sorrow for the death of a physicians rest. They are, in his friend had not put a period to his mind, the grievance that is most to own labours. The poem thus comes be complained of in this “ vale of abruptly to an end; and we are not tears.”

much concerned that there is no There was one other thing that more of it. His first intention was Beattie detested nearly as much as to have engaged the Minstrel in some “ metaphysic lore.” It was the adventure of importance, through crowing of a cock. This antipathy which it may be doubted whether he he contrived to express in the Min- could well have conducted him ; for strel, and the reader is startled by he has not shown much skill in the the expression of it, as by something narrative part of the poem. out of its place.

The other little piece, called the Of the stanza beginning, “ O, how Hermit, begins with a sweet strain, canst thou renounce, Gray told which always dwells on the ear, and him that it was, of all others, his which makes us expect that somefavourite ; that it was true poetry; thing equally sweet is to follow. that it was inspiration ; and, if I am This hermit too has his “harp symnot mistaken, it is related of Bishop phonious." He makes the same comPorteus, that when he was once with plaint, and finds the same comfort Beattie, looking down on a magnifi- for it, as Edwin had done in the first cent country that lay in prospect book of the Minstrel. Both are the before them, he broke out with much Christian's comment on a well-known delight into the repetition of it. Gray passage in the Idyllium of Moschus,

See his Essay on Poetry and Music, 431. Ed. 1776.

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