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** Does he not reflect that, in the first case, a peculiar combination of parts is alone fufficient; but in the second, that the morsels of ali. ment; besides a new arrangement, must also conjure up new powers of feeling, of thought, and of volition, whereof, as he allows, no seeds are to be found in their unorganized dishabille. For the future where will be the difficulty in conceiving, that something may in a like man: ner arise from nothing? It is not therefore merely because we do not understand how such a power can be conferred, by bare appofition, on matter that we recur to an imperceptible adjunct to explain the faculty of volition, as your metaphysical friend seems shrewdly to fancy, but chiefly, because the fole supposition of such a mysterious change is marked with the broad characters of palpable absurdity."
It has been remarked, by a shrewd observer of mankind, that, as the greatest strumpet cries whore first, the absurdert people in the world are the first to exclaim at the absurdities of others.
« Thus all looks yellow to the jaundiced eye,” and the reason is plain; to an absurd comprehenfion, truth itself must appear an absurdity. The ignorance and incapacity of this man, however, are contemptible: he talks of organiza tion as if it were nothing more than the juxta position or bare apposition of parts. Where did he get that idea? Is he lo puerile as not to know that organization consists in the confiftent motion of conftituent parts ? and that mere juxta-position of parts cannot always be called a combination, much lefs an organization? If a watch does not go, however truly its parts are put together, it is a mere assemblage of brass and steel ; it has not the essential property of a watch. In like manner, if the circulation of the fluids in an animal body be stopped, its · vital essence is gone. The comparison I made between them was merely analogous; but, though an animal be a more complicated machine, it is by means equally necessary and natural, if I may not say mechanical, that the animal body is kept alive by motion, and its waste repaired by aliment, as that a watch or clock is enabled to inform us of the time of day by motion.
“ With pleasure, continues this letter-writer, I accompany your disciple in his next remove, and applaud his philosophy, as long as he is fatisfied with asserting that, matier is not that inert, passive some. thing, poslessed of nothing but of length, breadth, and thickness, as generally represented. Matter, in all its parts, I allow to be as active, as he can poilibly desire. I will even go farther, and assert that, if matter is not active, it is nothing; for a substance, purely paffive, would be at best a useless and unnecellary lump in the creation. Thus far then we both agree.”
Indeed we do not. I conceive matter, though not that inert, paffive thing it is conceived to be by the Newtonians, to have no other principle of action in itself than is necessary to its reVol. V
a&ion; being totally inactive, if it were totally at reft.-But now we come to the langhter
" When speaking of the opposition caused by two bodies meeting in adverse directions, le says, " such an opposition may not improperly be called a mechanical Species of perception," or, " that two inanimate or unorganized bodies, in collition, perceive the presence or force of each other;" I defy che callous fibres of the most gloomy metaphyfi, cian not to diffuive in laughter."
Why don't you laugh? gentlemen. Are critics more glooiny than metaphysicians? or do you see nothing to laugh at? Proceed then.
“ It is, however, unkind barely to allow them this curious species of perceprioit
, and at the fame time retuse them all irritability, or powers of feeling pain or pleature: but this, he adds, is owing to the want of a nervous syrien, in consequence of which, “ they can neither see, hear, (nieil, nor talie each other." Still as he continues to resolve ther pratite poners into a species of universal touch (by the bye shere can be no such without irritability), who can tell, how far they may be swayed by gallions in the various modes of percussion from ra. vioins boties? By a hard and uncosth blow they may be roused into all the horrors efrige, or be fuftened into the charins of love by the gente picture of lume fair hand.”
Now, I perccive you smile, and well you may, at such a · misconception of my meaning. Surely I distinguished fufficiently bctween animal sensation and mere material resistance, by calling the latter a mechanical species of perception. He will not cavit at my saying that two equal balls of lead, meeting each other with equal velocity in opposite directions, 16crise a mutual impreffion from their reciprocal resistance, Where then is the impropriety of saying they perceive the refiftance from which it must be allowed they adually receive a permanent impression. But lead, he will lay, is not irritable, and “ by the bye there can be no touch without irritability."
And so the said leaden balls, notwithstanding they inight be beat fat by their percussion, did not touch one another. Risum teneatis !~Ha! ha! ha!--Oh ho! you do laugh now. The difcuffion of this point, however, is not a laughing matter : and yet seriously it is enighty simple. The error lies in the general fuppofition, that perception is the direct and fimple cffect of the impressions inade by external objects on the organs of sense. But this is not true: there neither is nor can be perception without reflection. It is not sufficient that the vibration of the nerves, the animal fpirits, or whatever it be that in this case affects the brain, communicates to the fenforium the impression received by the external object; it is necessary that such vibration or affection be repelled at the sensorium, and returned back to the extremity of the nerve first receiving
the impression from the obje&t : for it is in faa there, and not in the brain, that we perceive such obje&ts, or feel the seniation of pain or pleafure they excite. Hence it is, that in a profound reverie or trance, when the faculties and powers of refletlion are not exerted, nothing is perceived or felt.
This letter-writing philosopher proceeds to take me to talk about animation : about which he seems to know as little as about organization.
* What he means (meaning me] to prove from the example of some insects, living and moving atter the lots of their heads, I cannot pretend to say: the whole paffage is fo obscure and desultory, it has quite exhausted my patience."
Now he begins to be angry. But it is natural enough for a man to lose his temper, when he has lost his understanding. He does not comprehend what I mean by thc example of infeets living and moving after the lots of their heads. Where is the difficulty, when he himself has here given us an instance, that a literary grub may live, move, and write a pamphlet, without a head ?
" At length," continues this headless philosopher, " he that is 11. reverts to the old marvellous story, that from the mers combination of elements, simply refifting and inconscious, may a:ife " the faculties of sensation, perception, reflexion, and will, thé teft ot all the others." “ It was not therefore without reason, adds he, that Hobbes and some others have imputed an imperfect sense or perception to particles of unorganized matter." What say you to this again, Dutor? Will you allow perception, where no vibratory notion can be rapid !--The mere citation of such bizarre conceits is an ample refuturion of thenu."
This citation answering the purpoic of rotation, is like juxta-position answering that of organization --This writer has, indeed, a happy knack of putting the quid pro quo. For jult now, he says, I begin (as he ought to do) to blush. It is not true, however, as he says, that it is for the first tiine: for I have blushed for him more than once already. But why does he suppose me to bluth? Why truly becaute I fail,
“ They (Hobbes and his associates) wenr 100 far, inlecl, in calling it (the imperfect lense) a confricusness; as consciousness implies i fpecies of self-knowledge, that is obtainable only by a comparison lies tween the percipient body and the body perceived; which is not to be obtained by the faculty of Emple perception, but only from reflexion, or the faculty of comparing different perceptions with each other, of which it is not pretended inanimaie corpuscles are capable. At the same time it does by no means follow, that a combination of such corpuscles may not form a conscious and intelligent compound.”
And what' answer does our philosopher give to this!-He cries Bravissimo! An unanswerable argument; which hc Youchsafes, however, to illustrate thus :
" For my part now, I own, I cannot see wherein Mr. Hobbes is reprehensible: for, where there is perception, there certainly is conlci,
ou'ness; otherwise it becomes perception unperceived. But whatever he may ettablish with regard to the inconsciousness of his individual elements; he should not forget, that in collision or contact (and in the pre!ent system of universal gravitation it is very difficult for a body not to be in contact somewhere or other), according to his own philosophy, all bodies must be strictly conscious. This affection, indeed, he maintains, is only attainable by a comparison between the percipient body and the body perceived; but he has just before determined, " that two inanimate or unorganized bodies, in collifion, perceive the presence or force of each other.” If this mutual perception is not enough, on which to ground a fair comparison; why, such bodies must be stupid indeed!"
And yet not half so stupid as this pretender to philosophy, if his stupidity be not affected, and his perversion of my meaning wilful. But I fear, gentlemen, to tire your patience; and shall therefore cite but one passage more.
“ He (meaning me) is still resolved to put on his physical researches: he adds ; “ The absurdity of suppoling a fimple unorganized being capable of thinking is flagrant; if it thinks, it muft neceffarily have previoufly acquired an idea, or object of thought. It cannot think about nothing, and ideas are to be acquired only by means of the organs of teuse.” Never, I believe, was such flagrant nonsense uttered by a man, who hath the smallest pretension to the name of a philosopher! By what metaphysician was it ever allerted, that the soul of man may think, independently of all corporeal concurrence? In its present state of unicn, it hath organs sufficient for every species of thought: viewed as a ditiin&t or insulated subílance, it is gifted with powers of acting, but their exertion is dependent of the body. Ip' this light the philosopher contemplates the human soul.”
Might not I return the complement of flagrant nonsense here? He asks what metaphysician ever asserted the soul of man may think independent of the body. I will tell him; hundreds, and in particular his favourite Genevan philosopher Mr, Eonnet; who says, the soul is a substance which thinks, though united to a substance which is unthinking. I am mistaken alio, if Voltaire does not somewhere say, that the ideas in the mind of an unborn infant should be clearer than ever afterwards, because its mental operations would be less interrupted by external sensations.
If the soul cannot think without the concurrence of the body, how can it be with any propriety called a thinking fubftance? On the dissolution of the body, it must, also, in such case *cease to think.-By what metaphysician, who looks upon the foul to be of a nature essentially different from the body, is this asserted? Or rather let me ask of what consequence it is, whether any metaphysician ever espoused either notion? The motto of the philosopher Thould be, Nullius jurare in verbo Magistri I am, Gentlemen, &c.”
Charles and Charlotte. In Two Volumes. Price
Lanc. It is the general complaint of those, who professionally infpect the effufions of the Press, that our Novelists adhere to one dall star:dard, and Navishly tread in the track of infipid imitation, With too much justice, indeed, is this charge brought against the multifarious herd of modern Romance-writers; infomuch that, from three or four Letters, or Chapters, we know, precisely, what will happen to the hero or heroine in the courle, and at the conclusion, of the hiftory: we anticipate too much to raise in us any hope of getting agreeably through the Performance.
The anonymous author of the volumes now under consideration will, we believe, escape all censure of this fort, as they turn totally on a new hinge, and the incidents are as in. çeresting, as the language in which they are described, though in many places loose and careless, is animated and flowing.
A wife, a lover, and a husband, are, in this work, exhibited in ftriking and original fituations, and the main hiftory is relieved by feveral pertinent episodes, all of which discover a knowledge of men and manners, and a lively power in the author of depicting them. The fable is this. Charles, a young man of a volatile genius, and excentric imagination, being, for some family reasons, separated from Cleora, hiš wife, and at the fame time involved in a domestic quarrel with his mother, who is here figured under the signature of Mrs. P. is represented as having cohabited for fome time with Charlotte. The history sets out at the time of Charlotte's elopement, in consequence of an accidental interview with Charles's wife. This event produces, as might be expected, some tender and affc&ing scenes, most of which however are, we must forewarn our readers, written rather to the imagination than the understanding. In the progress of the story, the hero, it must be ack nowledged, displays a roinantic enthufiasm, by wbich his character is uniformly marked throughont; and the distress and pathos of the narrative is much heightened by the introduction of two personages under the names of Dr. Melbank, and Mr. Reynolds; between whom, in point of generosity, there are fome affe&ing feenes of emulation. A series of circumstances fucceed, which, though a little peculiar, are not unnatural: the catastrophe, however, though properly pathetic, is very unsatisfactory, and brings nothing to a point. With regard to the principal characters of this dramatic Romance, they are thrown into situations that would justly excite our pity, if their conduct were less morally ex