Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed]

1

believe his absurd conclusion. I her will instead of demanding of therefore desired that he, who was her that she should do theirs. deep in such subtleties, but did not Right or wrong, such was the appear to believe Mr. Berkeley's principle rooted deeply by recent conclusions, would answer him; events in the heart of the nation. which task be declined." Thus An opposite opinion meant at that the young Irishman splintered moment Jacobitism, revolutionism, his lance upon the world without anything but devotion to the powers finding any 'immediate champion that be. In short, the title of the to do battle with him. There was powers then actually existing to à pause of consternation in that the obedience and devotion of the misty, doubtful, uncertain sphere. people was of so unreal a character The old philosophy "did not ap- that such a treatise at such a pear to believe," but "declined the time looked very much like either task" of replying. It was some rebellion or nonsense. Berkeley, time before it found breath and however, meant it as neither. This courage enough even to acknow. is how he explains his curious exledge the challenge.

position of duty :For two years after this the young Fellow of Trinity remained " That an absolute passive obedience in Dublin, no doubt doing his work ought not to be paid to any civil power, with the joyful energy of his youth but that submission to government and enthusiastic temperament. should be measured and limited by the During this time " the principles public good of society; and that, there. inculcated in Mr. Locke's two trea- fore, subjects may lawfully resist the tises on Government seem to have supreme authority in those cases where turned his attention to the doc require it—nay, that it is their duty to

the public good shall plainly seem to trine of passive obedience," says his do so, inasmuch as they are all under biographer, "in support of which an indispensable obligation to promote he printed the substance of three the common interest : these and the like Commonplaces delivered by him notions, which I cannot help thinking that year in the College chapel." pernicious to mankind and repugnant He himself explains this publication, to right reason, having of late years by way of preface, with a mixture of been industriously cultivated and set in that lofty optimism which distin- the most advantageous lights by men guishes all his thoughts, and which of parts and learning, it seemed necesso often carries men of his stamp, in sary to arm the youth of our University their very pursuit of the highest good, against them, and take care they go into into conjunction with the meanest

the world well principled; I do not tyrannies-with that frank straight- of a party, but, from a nearly acqnaint

mean obstinately prejudiced in favour forward opposition to the great an- ance with their duty, and the clear tagonist he had chosen for himself, rational ground of it, determined to which is equally characteristic of such practices as may speak them good the man. The age was not favour- Christians and loyal subjects.” able to the doctrine of passive obedience; all its political order, in Perhaps nobody but an Irishman short, was founded upon a flat and could have sent forth in perfect practical contradiction of the theory. good faith at such a crisis a work So far from passively obeying, Eng- of such a kind. Queen Anne was land had but lately expelled her sinking towards her end. It was hereditary monarch, had set in suc- the general meaning and expectation cession two daughters of the exiled that the new family, with no claims king upon his throne, and was now whatever upon the obedience of plotting the introduction of an al- the nation, should be set in her together new family of rulers, leav- place; and it is little wonder that ing the old in banishment, in the this whimsical big bull should have hope that her new lords would do been afterwards produced against

[ocr errors]

tion;

was

Berkeley, when he was recom- adventurer in terms which seem mended for promotion to the new high-flown to the sober ears of Majesties. In the long-run, happi- posterity. “So much learning, so ly, it did him no harm; nor is there much knowledge, so much innothe least trace that he had any inten- eence, and such humility, I did not tion of turning the eyes of the young think had been the portion of any fervid English-Irish community to- but angels till I saw this gentlewards the exiled Stuarts, who alone, man," says the Bishop. Thus, unisacred in their divine right, could versally admired and adopted by have any claim upon the passive the wits, the young man's short obedience of their hereditary sub- career “in town" must have been jects. His aim was honestly to a continued triumph. He pubprove" that there is an absolute lished there the 'Three. Dialogues unlimited non-resistance or passive between Hylas and Philonous,' in obedience due to the supreme which his new system of philo power;

wherever placed in any na- sophy was once more set forth and

and unappalled by the amaz- elucidated to the world. The form ing contradiction of circumstances of dialogue was one wbich pleased around him, he worked out his theory the age; but it has radical disadwith a calm as perfect as if the vantages at all times, and especisocial order of the empire had never ally when dealing with a subject been disturbed. A few months 80 difficult, The reader cannot after this publication, he went but feel that the hapless interto England for the first time, and locutor, set up there to be driven

received with enthusiasm. into one corner after another, comThe whole guild of literature pelled to /make the most dapiaging scems to have opened its arms to admissions, and finally beaten and the young philosopher. Steele on triumphed over, is in every respect the one side, and Swift on the a man of straw, rather enfeebling other, brought himn into the heart than strengthening, with his weak of all the society of the day, objections, the strain of the arguAddison, at this or a subsequent ment; are the dialogues so time, was so much interested in readable (although so evidently inhim that he took the trouble of tended to be more readable) as the bringing about a meeting at his grave work which preceded them, own house between him and Dr. What with this publication, and Clarke, in order to the discussion his warm reception by society, and reconciliation, if possible, of Berkeley's short stay in London their different views. Pope writes must have been sufficiently full

. to him that “my Lord Bishop He is said to have written several Atterbury was very much con- papers for the Guardian,' only cerned at missing you yesterday,' one of which, however, can be and entreats him to provide your- identified as his. He was introself of linen and other necessaries duced and recommended specially, sufficient for the week; for as I take it would seem, by Swift, who was you to be almost the only friend one of his many friends, to that I have that is above the little strange hero of romance the Earl vanities of the town, I expect you of Peterborough, then about to start may be able to renounce it for one upon a mission Ambassador week, and to make trial how you to the Court of Sicily and other like my Tusculum, because I assure Italian States, and became his you it is no less yours, and hope secretary and chaplain. In the you will use it as your own country- suite of this remarkable and eccenvilla in the ensuing season.” Atter- tric personage Berkeley left philobury himself, a more congenial sophy and England, and went out, spirit, adds his praise of the young wandering on errant

nor

as

an

course

which lasted for years, abroad into ous young soul, the very best and the world. He was still but nine- highest type of the adventurer, and-twenty, and yet this is some going blithely out to face the world thing like the end of his purely and seek his fortune; and yet alphilosophical career. Hereafter ready the author of works, one of the young man, afloat in the full which had" made an epoch in tide of life, finds other pieces of science," and the other an epoch work to do, and matters thrown in metaphysics! Such wonders into his hands of which he had not happen but rarely in this limited dreamed. His intellect goes on world. It is evident that he carrried in the activity inseparable from all that weight of learning lightly as such a nature; but the silence and a flower, and went away with the the leisure have gone from him. simplicity of genius, glad of opporHenceforward he is in a busier tunities of speaking French, and scene, amid influences more urgent writing such letters to his dear and less subtle. And we do not Tom” as any young Irish chaplain suppose that any other philosopher on his travels might have written. has proved himself capable of thus He was a week on the road between setting his mark upon the most Calais and Paris in the stage-coach, difficult of all sciences, and turn- but having " good company," did ing its stream into a new channel, not mind. He was dazzled by the before he had even attained the grandeur of everything he saw in maturity of manhood, This Berke- Paris, finding there "splendour and ley did wbile still under thirty; riches" to pass belief, but “ has and thereafter went upon his way, some reasons to decline speaking of not to forget or abandon the spec- the country or villages that I saw ulations of his youth, but yet to as I came along." These reasons, play the part of a man in a world as he afterwards permits us to too busy for philosophers, and to divine, were "the poverty and disdemonstrate what force of health- tress," which he sadly allows to be ful vitality, what stout service and enough“ to spoil the mirth of any helpfulness, could exist in the pro- one who feels the sufferings of his phet of Idealism, the destroyer of fellow-creatures ;" for we must not matter, the exponent of what, to forget that it was the eighteenth so many sober-minded critics, has century, and those awful seeds of seemed the most fantastic of all oppression and wretchedness which creeds.

El produced the Revolution were alThe young Irishman, thus setting ready germinating. "I cannot out upon his travels with a reputa- help observing," he says, “that the tion already at a height which only Jacobites have little to hope, and one or two men in a century ever others little to fear, from that

gain - with manners and morals reduced nation. The king, indeed, so high that only among the angels - looks as if he wanted neither meat had Bishop Atterbury hoped to be- nor drink, and his palaces are in hold the like of him with "every good repair, but through the land virtue under heaven" attributed to there is a different face of things." him by the most satirical of poets,- Evidently to the traveller matters was, in addition to all this, endow- appeared too serious to be talked of; ed with that beauty of form and and yet some eighty years passed face which does not always accom- before the awful explosion came! pany beauty of character. He was "I was present," he adds, "at a

a handsome man, with a counten- disputation in the Sorbonne, which, ance full of meaning and benignity, indeed, had much of the French remarkable for great strength of fire in it;" and he goes on to say limbs, and of a very robust con- that he was about “to visit Father stitution.” A natural, genial, joy- Malebranche, and discourse him on

[graphic]

a

certain points." of this meeting travels contains, of course, nothing a curious story is told. The priest new to the modern reader; indeed was in bis cell when the young he acknowledges, even at that clergyman, heretic in more than period, that “Italy is an exhausted religious faith, went to see him. subject." Yet he does not hesitate He was discovered “cooking in a to give a sketch of Ischia to Pope, small pipkin a medicine for a dis

--one of those little bare, yet not order with which he was then upsuggestive, descriptions of the troubled-an inflammation on the “delicious isle" in which the age lungs. The conversation naturally abounded. To Dr. Arbuthnot, turned on our author's system, of another of the friends his repuwhich the other had received some tation had made for him among knowledge from a translation just the wits, he sends his account of published. But the issue of his Vesuvius. Wherever he goes, it is debate proved tragical to poor with his eyes open, his mind intent Malebranche. In the heat of dis- upon the sight and understanding putation he raised his voice so of all. This first expedition lasted high, and gave way so freely to the not quite a year, but was immenatural impetuosity of a man of diately followed by a second, taken parts and a Frenchman, that he in charge of a pupil, a Mr. Ashe, son brought on himself a violent in- of the Bishop of Clogher, who had erease of his disorder, which carried previously been Provost of Trinity him off a few days after.". Thus College. Between these two expediMalebranche died of Berkeley in tions he had a fever, of which Arthe most curious, tragi-comic buthnot writes to Swist with friendway; and indeed few contrasts ly playfulness. “Poor philosopher could be more striking than that of Berkeley has now the idea of health, the old French priest in his cell, which was very hard to produce in with his pipkin and his cough, him," he says, "for he had an idea shrill and worn, yet impetuous still, of a strange fever on him, so strong and the strapping young Fellow that it was very hard to destroy of Trinity, with the fresh winds it by introducing a contrary one." blowing about him, and all his Thus his friends, with kindly jeers, youthful powers in full vigour. smiled at the Idealist; as indeed He was a month in Paris, and it has been his fate to be pursued made full use of his time; and his with jeers, not kindly, from that power of conversing with his fellow- time until now. travellers, and understanding dis- He was absent for four years on putations at the Sorbonne, full of his second expedition, and, it is apFrench fire, is not one of the least parent, made himself acquainted of his acquirements. There are, with the depths of Italy as few alas ! many fellows of colleges, men men can, even at the present day. full of philosophy and fine attain- Nor was he so much occupied with ment, who even in these travelling his travels as to abandon speculadays might be found to hesitate at tion. On his way home, stopping such a test.

at Lyons in one of the many pauses From Paris the travellers went of those slow journeys, he composed on to Italy, daring the dangers of what his biographer calls "a curious the Mont Cenis pass on New-Year's tract, De Motu,' which he sent to Day-an experience which Berke- the Royal Academy of Sciences at ley seems to have found appalling Paris, the subject being proposed enough. “I can gallop all day by that assembly." long, and sleep but three or four "Concerning Motion” was afterhours at night," he writes, from wards published in London in the the sunny side of the Alps, to his year 1721, and is in perfect agreedear Tom. The account of his ment with the characteristic strain

This paper

« ZurückWeiter »