Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

than to his parents. He will accommo- there should not be a single expression datė, as well as he can, his public ar- in it, which could give offence or unrangements to the confirmed habits and easiness to any friend of Mr. Hume's; prejudices of the people, and will remedy, and he read the story to Dr. Smith, as well as he can, the inconveniences desiring him to say, if there was anywhich may flow from the want of those thing in it that he would wish to be regulations which the people are averse omitted or altered. He listened to it to submit to. When he cannot establish very attentively from beginning to end, the right, he will not disdain to amelio- and declared that he did not find a rate the wrong; but, like Solon, when syllable to object to, but added (with his he cannot establish the best system of characteristic absence of mind, says Mr. laws, he will endeavour to establish the Mackenzie), that he was surprised he best that the people can bear*."

had never heard the anecdote before. Finely as he has tempered in his It may be easily supposed that with writings the rigour, if we may so speak, such a propensity to abstraction, he did of his speculative doctrines ; and care. not readily fall in with the tone of geneful as he is at all times, by the infusion ral conversation, and that in conseof moral sympathy, to correct any error quence of that, and of his professional or evil that might lurk in the logical habits as a lecturer, he was apt to exinferences to be deduced from them; press rather exclusively, the result of with a sagacity in his general reason- his own meditations, without sufficient ings, alive to the nicest shades in the reference at all times to the topic in conduct of the understanding and the hand, or the immediate purpose of its passions; his excellent biographer has discussion; and that his style had more given us reason to think that his un- of the precision of a formal discourse, premeditated opinions both of men than of the ease and freedom which and books were not always such as constitute the charm of colloquial intermight have been looked for,- from the course. It is reported of him too that soundness of his judgment, and the he was occasionally more positive in singular consistency of his principles as the assertion of his opinions than is ala philosopher. His discernment of the ways becoming in a philosopher, and that character of individuals was often de- notwithstanding the extent and variety fective, and apt, like his particular of his information, he erred sometimes judgments on other occasions, to be in- from taking a partial and peculiar view fluenced by accident and humour. He of a subject, as it might chance to be seemed to be habitually inattentive to connected at that particular moment familiar objects and common with some passing speculation in his rences, and “has frequently exhibited mind. instances of absence,” says Mr. Stewart, His learning was extensive and pro“which have scarcely heen surpassed found. His study had not been conby the fancy of La Bruyère."

fined to the subjects which might apSome striking and amusing instances pear to have occupied the whole labour of this infirmity have been recently of his life. The sciences of ethics and made public, by a lively and agreeable politics were not taken up by him, writer, from whose powers of humorous as detached and abstract branches of description, however, it may well be philosophy. They came presented to supposed they have lost nothing in the his mind as part of the greater science narrative. We will mention one cir- of human nature, to which he had cumstance which is recorded by Mr. always devoted himself; and in the conMackenzie, in illustration. When that templation of which he borrowed every gentleman wrote the beautiful story of aid which a careful observation of the La Roche, in the Mirror,' in which, various institutions which have existed with reference to the character of Mr. among men, their history, their lanHume, he embodied the sentiments guage, and the monuments of their arts which the good nature and benevolence and letters, could afford him. But he of that illustrious man might have sug- loved literature, as he loved virtue, for gested under the circumstances ima. its own sake, for its intrinsic beauty gined, he was particularly anxious that and worth. In its best records, those

which exhibit the actions, and display

the passions and sentiments of men, Moral Sent. vol. ii. part vi. sect. 2. + Vide Quart. Rev. On the Life of John Home, traced to their causes; in history, in

whether in philosophy where they are ascribed to Sir Walter Scott.



poetry, and oratory, where, under differ- positions that inexpressible charm, ent forms, they are beheld in their which Gibbon may be supposed to have operation ; amid that exhaustless variety felt, when he describes himself in his of circumstances and vicissitude of for. ambition to emulate him, as

"closing tune, under which man has been seen the volume with a mixed sensation of at once an agent and a victim ; he delight and despair *." found the everlasting materials for The great aim of Dr. Smith as a his speculations, the real and only writer, and his great merit, is data of all moral science. He did not vellous perspicuity in the exposition of affect to despise, economist as he was, his ideas. Often diffuse, but never the imperishable productions of human prolix; sometimes condensed, but never wit and genius, the poetry of Homer entangled in his expression; he unfolds or of Milton, the eloquence of Demos, the process of his reasonings so amply, thenes, or of Fox; because he could that he leaves nothing to be supplied by find in their works no argument for his reader but a careful attention to his the theory of rent, or the doctrine of matter. Mr. Fox however is reported population. Nor was he pleased to to have said of him, perhaps hastily, think it the part of a philosopher or a that he was unnecessarily díffuse, and philanthropist, to sneer at the domestic fond of deductions where there was noaffections, and the social virtues, in the thing to deduce. Mr. Stewart, with most comprehensive investigations which greater reserve, has ventured to hint a he instituted, and which had for their criticism nearly similar, and has ascribed object the common benefit of man- this quality in his compositions to his kind.

early fondness for the study of the Greek In his last hours he found delight in geometry. the tragedies of Euripides and Racine; His greatest defect in the “Wealth and the drama, and the principles of the of Nations,” along with some faults in dramatic art, and of poetry in general, the arrangement of his subject, arises formed a frequent and favourite topic of from his frequent digressions; his long his conversation. He was a great advo. dissertations upon some incidental quescate for rhyme, a more unqualified one tions, which frequently encumber the even than Dr. Jolinson, for he was ac- text, and intercept that complete and customed to contend for the propriety unbroken view of the subject as a of it as well on the stage, as in all other whole, which a didactic author, who departments of poetry*.

desires to interest and inform his reader, As he loved to read it, he was accus- should always endeavour to preserve, tomed to quote poetry, and the number from the first simple proposition with of beautiful passages which he had which he sets out, to the final detreasured in his memory, and was in the velopement of his system in all its habit of introducing in conversation, parts. This defect arose partly from a was remarkable in a man distinguished peculiarity in his judgment, which led by so many higher acquisitions. him to reject the use of marginal anno

His peculiar taste is best exemplified tations; so useful in treating of many in the style of his writings, which pos- subjects, and certainly, it would seem, sess, even in that respect alone, merit of not the least so, in many which Dr. a very high order.

If he has not (and Smith undertook to discuss in his great who has ?) the grace, the “careless, in- work. It is curious, however, that, in imitable beauties,”* of Mr. Hume, it was the “ Wealth of Nations," there are, we owing in some measure to his not believe, but three or four notes, of four having mixed in such varied society; or five lines each, in the whole work, a circumstance which, acting upon the and these containing little more than refined taste of the latter, lent to his com- references to authorities; whilst, in the and the clearest illustrations to be found, has bestowed high praise upon it, it perhaps, in the whole work.*~ seems hardly to have attracted the no

“Theory of Moral Sentiments,” there * It is well known that the two Doctors got to occurs but one of considerable length, rather high words once at Mr. Dilly's table, where and of importance more than equal to they met at dinner. Many years after this, when

its length, in which it is remarkable Johnson, on some occasion, was maintaining the superiority of rhyme over blank verse, Boswell that he has embodied a piece of reasonobserved that he had heard Adam Smith enforce ing, having essential reference to his the same criticism in his lectures at Glasgow. “Sir," said Johnson, “ Smith and I once met, and we did system, of which it may be said, indeed, not much take to each other; but if I had known to furnish one of the strongest supports, that the dog loved rhyme as much as you say he does, Sir, I should have hugged him." + Gibbon's Memoirs.

* Gibbon's Memoirs.

There is no doubt that he bestowed tice it deserves. The longest and most great care upon the style and composi- important of the posthumous essays, is tion of his works. And after all his entitled a “ History of Astronomy," in practice as a writer, he is said never to which the author proposes to illustrate have acquired that facility which is often the principles which suggest and direct attained by it, but to have written as philosophical inquirers, by an account slowly, and with as much labour at of the origin and progress of that intelast, as he had ever done. This how- resting science. The same train of ever was the effect, in some measure, thought was pursued in two shorter and of the nature of his speculations, and more imperfect essays, on the “ History the general character and conduct of of the Ancient Physics,” and that of the his understanding. In all his works, “ Ancient Logic and Metaphysics." though we find passages of exceeding Along with these is a disquisition of eloquence, force, and beauty, he is most very great beauty, entitled, with his acdistinguished for being a deliberate customed amplitude of language, “ On reasoner, and a candid and cautious the Nature of that Imitation which takes thinker. It was usual with him, when place, in what are called the Imitative employed in composition, not to write Arts ;" and another, on the “External with his own hand, but to walk about Senses "—all abounding in great orihis room dictating to an amanuensis. ginality of thought, exquisite illustraHe had collected, in the course of his tion, and expression the most expanded life, a very valuable library, which he and luminous. bequeathed to his cousin, Mr. David In the Sketches of the History of Douglas. As he was a lover of books, Philosophy," we find the same turn and he was more attentive to their condition, tendency of mind which he has displayed and the outward fashion of them, than in his greater works; a disposition which is usual with scholars in general. When delighted to ascribe the first exercise of Mr. Smellie once called upon him, and the imagination and the intellect, not to was admiring a splendid copy of some any view of profit or advantage in its classic author, and the general elegance results, but to a natural desire to fill up of his shelves,-“You see, Sir," said the void which was felt by the mind, Smith, if in nothing else, I am a beau from its inability to comprehend and at least in my books.

connect together the various, and, as it Besides the two great works of which would seem, the disjointed appearances we have spoken, and on which the fame which present themselves to its contem. of Dr. Smith will for ever rest, .we plation in the scenes and operations of must not omit to mention the very ori. nature. “Philosophy,” says Dr. Smith, ginal and ingenious dissertation on the “is nothing but the science of the conformation of languages, which was ap. necting principle of nature.". It is an pended to the early editions of the “Moral art addressed to the imagination, which Sentiments," and still continues to be seeks to adapt and reconcile to that published along with that work; and faculty some theory, more or less satisthe few masterly, but unfinished sketches factory, of the phenomena, which, at first which were published shortly after his view, are void of order and connexion, death. The tract on languages is a and of meaning. The superiority of the piece of extensive learning and profound Newtonian philosophy, he maintains, observation; but though Mr. Stewart consists only in this,—that it is the

most pleasing solution of the great proDr. Snith was betrayed into this rejection of blem of nature which has yet been given marginal writing, by his classic adherence to the plan of composition of the ancients, who were equally —that it connects more easily and more ignorant of the use and the abuse of our modern simply the appearances of the heavens practice; but many of whose works woulde exidenidx in the fancy-not that it is by any means have been much improved by a moderate adoption of it; and every reader of the “Wealth of Nations” to be regarded as unfolding the actual must have felt how much he would have been relieved in the study of this great work, if many por

chains which nature makes use of to tions of it, which might be pointed out, had been re- bind together her several operations. moved from the text to the margin, to be consulted in their proper places, and not allowed to interrupt, been made upon the writings of this

In the few observations which have as they often do, a chain of profound and subtle reasoning, or an interesting deduction of consequences illustrious man, as in the short extracts of the highest importance to the establishment of introduced from them, it has been less the point in question.

† Vide “Theory of Moral Sent.," Part ii. Sect. 1. our object, as will be seen, to dwell upon

[ocr errors]


their merits with reference to any sys- tain provisions for his attainment to tem, either of morals or economy, or to virtue and to happiness, which the ignothe soundness or fallacy of any particu- rant may overlook, and the arrogant lar doctrine, than to point out the admi- may disregard, but with which the wise rable spirit which animates every part will only study to co-operate. And all of that system ; and those principles to the precepts we can put forth will de. which he always appeals, as the legiti- rive their best sanction, and afford the mate sources whence alone we can strongest presumption in their favour by draw the materials of all moral and their being shewn to be in unison with political institutes. To have done more those simple instincts of our nature, by than this, to have given even a very which alone, as individuals, we are first brief abstract of his system, in either of taught to apprehend a distinction behis two great works, would have far ex- twixt good and evil,* and which, in the ceeded the limits of the present memoir; obvious arrangements they suggest for would require, and might well deserve, the social union, were equally intended a separate treatise.

by our great Creator as lights to the What has been attempted, however im- economist and the legislator for the perfectly, may not be altogether without framing of those laws and institutions its use, at least until propositions in the which take place in the wider and more moral, as in the mathematical sciences, complicated associations of men. It was shall admit of demonstration. When that in this excellent and truly enlightened shall be the case, and the results of our spirit, that Smith, by applying the ex reasonings can be submitted to so deci- perimental method of reasoning to moral sive a test, the sources whence we derive subjects, attained the vantage ground of them, and the mode in which they are that higher philosophy of which it is the conducted, may be alike indifferent, and glory of Bacon to have pointed out the cannot assuredly affect in the slightest road ;-by which Newton ascended to degree the truths demonstrated. Till the discovery of the sublimest truths in then, however, it must be considered as physics ;--and by the careful cultivation no unimportant part of that species of of which alone, if ever, it may be hoped, philosophy which, in the expressive lan- that the moral and political sciences guage of Lord Bacon, comes home to will be placed on a foundation equally men's business and bosoms, to tem- enduring, and when knowledge in them per its doctrines by 'moderation and will more surely become power to man, modesty; to engage the sympathies on as their reference to his happiness and our side of those we undertake to teach, advancement is more obvious and imand not to repel them; to endeavour to mediate. shew, if we can, that the doctrines we

* It has become usual of late, even in moral and inculcate may be traced to a higher political discourses, to regard all reference to authowisdom than that of man, by being fity as marks of a poor and illogical understanding. in conformity with the rules by which rest upon mathematics, (as we have said in the text)

In the physical sciences, those more especially which nature seems to work, and in further. the argument from authority is of course out of the ance of principles which she has evi- question. It is different we conceive in other sub

jects;-and though we have little respect for an dently implanted for the accomplishment hypothesis, however supported, which appeals from of her own great ends.

the universal sense and feelings of mankind, an auNo philosopher has so constantly is entitled to a gool deal, and for our parts we

thority that appeals to that sense and those feelings borne in mind as Dr. Smith, that in the should be satisfied to take our chance of error, in a moral, as in the physical constitution question concerning the principle of moral appro

bation-for instance, with Hume and Smith, and and frame of man, nature has made cer

Stewart and Mackintosh.




A Treatise in Six Books, in Disproof of the Superfecundity of Human Beings;

and developing the Real Principle of their Increase. By MICHAEL THOMAS SADLER, M.P. 2 vols. 8vo. 30s.

2. IRELAND; its EVILS, and their REMEDIES. Being a Refutation of the Errors of the Emigration Committee and others, touching that Country. To which is prefixed a Synopsis of an Original Treatise, about to be published on the Law of Population; developing the real principles on which it is universally regulated. By MICHAEL Thomas SADLER, M.P. Second Edition, 8vo. 12s.-" Dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”

3. IRELAND and its ECONOMY. Being the result of Observations made on a Tour through the Country in the Autumn of 1829. By J. E. BICHENO, Esq. F.R. S., Sec. of Linn. Society, &c. &c. , Post 8vo. 88. 6d.


4. THREE LECTURES on the COST of obtaining MONEY, and

some Effects of PRIVATE and GOVERNMENT PAPER MONEY, delivered. before the University of Oxford, in Trinity Term, 1829. By Nassau William SENIOR, A. M., late Fellow of Mag. Col., Prof. of Political Econ. In 8vo. 3s. 6d.

5. On FINANCIAL REFORM. Second Edition, in crown 8vo. 9s.6d.


6. An ESSAY on the PRINCIPLE of POPULATION; or, a View of its past and present Effects on Human Happiness; with an Inquiry into our Prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the Evils which it contains. By the Rev. T. R. Malthus, late Fellow of Jesus' College, Cambridge, and Professor of History and Political Economy in the East India College, Hertfordshire. A Fifth Edition, with important Additions and Corrections. 3 vols. 8vo. 36s.

7. DEFINITIONS in POLITICAL ECONOMY, preceded by an Inquiry into the Rules which ought to guide Political Economists in the Definition and Application of their Terms; with Remarks on the Deviations from their Rules in practice. By the Rev. T. R. MALTHUS. Pust 8vo. 7s.6d.

In the Press, 8. The PROGRESS of SOCIETY. By the late ROBERT HAMILTON, LL.D., F.R. S. E., Professor of Mathematics in the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen; Author of " An Enquiry concerning the National Debt.”--Contents: General Principles.--). Of Human Welfare.-- 2. Sketch of the Progress of Society.-3. Of Wealth and Industry.-4. Of Rewards for Inventions.-5. Of Capital.-6. Of Money.-7. Of Value and Price.-8. Component Parts of Value.-9. Of Rent.-10. Of Tithes.- 11. Distribution of Wealth.-12. Equalization of Wealth.-13. Of Property.--14. Education of the Lower Ranks.-15. Effect of Numbers on a State.---16, On Commerce.-17. On Population.-18. Artificial State of Society.–19. Paper Currency.-20. Corn Trade.-Concluding Observations. 2 vols. 8vo.

Dr. Hamilton had been engaged for many years in writing this Work, and continued to revise and improve it until within a few days of his death.

9. SIR THOMAS MORE. A Series of Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society. With Engravings. By ROBERT SOUTHLY, Esq., LL.D., Poet Laureate. With a Portrait of Sir Thomas More, and Six Views, 2 vols. 8vo., 30s. A new Edition,

“ Respice, aspice, prospice,

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »