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solemn crisis of the drama, or with the most momentous event of a history. To be in harmony with his situation, in his own view of that situation, the expressions of the dying philosopher were required to be dignified ; and if they were in any degree vivacious, the vivacity ought to have been rendered graceful by being accompanied with the noblest effort of the intellect of which the efforts were going to cease for ever. The low vivacity of which we have been reading, seems but like the quickening corruption of a mind whose faculty of perception is putrifying and dissolving even before the body. It is true that good men, of a high order, have been known to utter pleasantries in their last hours. But these have been pleasantries of a fine ethereal quality, the scintillations of animated hope, the high pulsations of mental health, the involuntary movements of a spirit feeling itself free even in the grasp of death, the natural springs and boundings of faculties on the point of obtaining a still much greater and a boundless liberty. These had no resemblance to the low and laboured jokes of our philosopher; jokes so laboured as to give strong cause for suspicion, after all, that they were of the same nature, and for the same purpose, as the expedient of a boy on passing through some gloomy place in the night, who whistles to lessen his fear, or to persuade his companion that he does not feel it.
3. Such a manner of meeting death was inconsistent with the scepticism, to which Hume was always found to avow his adherence. For that scepticism necessarily acknowledged a possibility and a chance that the religion which he had scorned, might, notwithstanding, be found true, and might, in the moment after his death, glare upon him with all its terrors. But how dreadful to a reflecting mind would have been the smallest chance of meeting such a vision! Yet the philosopher could be cracking his heavy jokes, and Dr. Smith could be much diverted at the sport.
4. To a man who solemnly believes the truth of revelation, and therefore the threatenings of divine vengeance against the despisers of it, this scene will present as mournful a spectacle as perhaps the sun ever shone upon. We have beheld a man of great talents and invincible perseverance, entering on his career with the profession of an impartial inquiry after truth, met at every stage and step by the evidences and expostulations of religion and the claims of his Creator, but devoting his labours to the pursuit of fame and the promotion of impiety, at length acquiring and accomplishing, as he declared himself, all he had intended and desired, and descending toward the close of life amidst tranquillity, widely-extending reputation, and the homage of the great and the learned. We behold him appointed soon to appear before that Judge to whom he had never alluded but with malice or contempt; yet preserving to appearance an entire self-complacency, idly jesting about his approaching dissolution, and mingling with the insane sport his references to the fall of “ superstition,” a term of which the meaning is hardly ever dubious when expressed by such men. We behold him at last carried off, and we seem to hear, the following moment, from the darkness in which he vanishes, the shriek of surprise and terror, and the overpowering accents of the messenger of vengeance.
On the whole globe there probably was not acting, at the time, so mournful a tragedy as that of which the friends of Hume were the spectators, without being aware that it was any tragedy
If that barbarous old Charon would have permitted a century or two more of life, it is probable that Hume would have been severely mortified in viewing the effect of his writings against “ superstition,” an effect so much less than his vanity no doubt secretly anticipated. Indeed his strictly philosophical works seem likely to fall into utter neglect. The biographer justly observes, that, though very acute, they are not very lucid or systematic in point of reasoning; and they have none of that eloquence,
which sometimes continues to interest the general reader in works that are becoming superannuated in the schools of philosophy. Many of his shorter essays will always be read with much advantage ; but his History,
we need not say, is the basis of his permanent reputation ; and it will perpetuate the moral, as well as the intellectual cast of his mind; it will show a man indifferent to the welfare of mankind, contemptuous of the sublime feelings of moral and religious heroism, incapable himself of all grand and affecting sentiments, and constantly cherishing a consummate arrogance, though often under the semblance and language of philosophic moderation.
A Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reo. Claudius
Buchanan, M. A., with a Refutation of the Arguments exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the ultimate Civilization of the Natices, by their Conversion to Christianity. Also, Remarks on an Address from the Missionaries in Bengal, to the Natives of India, condemning their Errors, and inviting them to become Christians. The whole tending to evince the Excellence of the Moral System of the Hindoos, and the Danger of interfering with their customs or Religion. By a BENGAL OFFICER. 8vo.
NOTWITHSTANDING the laudable pains taken, by some of the pious people of these times, to engage our respect at least, if not to effect our conversion, to the “religion” of the Brahmins, we cannot profess to have entirely overcome all the difficulties of admitting the doctrine of transmigration. Till very lately, we had no doubts whatever on the subject; we could most conscientiously have declared a total disbelief of that doctrine ; but it is the privilege or misfortune of candid minds, to be in every stage of their intellectual course susceptible of the impression of every new argument, so that you shall find them, in February, veering toward the belief of what they had deemed utterly absurd in the December preceding. In time, however, they learn to be a little cautious of instantly avowing each new direction of their opinions: we therefore do not wish to be just now called upon to express ourselves decidedly, as to our views of this grand tenet of Indian faith ; we shall only say that the sole argument which has gone far to change our former views of the subject, arises from the appearance of such an author as the one now before us. For it would seem rather difficult to believe, that such a piece of entity should have originated in this country of England, to which, notwithstanding, we are to refer, as far as appears, the commencement of his present stage of mundane existence : he does not perhaps distinctly say this, but it is impossible for us to assign such a nativity to the sister island, because we are all apprised of the valuable privilege conferred on that soil by St. Patrick, of never having cause to regret the want of ichneumons. And our partiality for England, though the country produces, we know, many things for which it is never the better, would really make it desirable to hope, that the moral agent before us received its being and acquired its properties in some distant country and age, though it does not say whether it has any dim traces of recollection of having, early in the Káli joog, infested the precincts of some idol's temple in the East, and tasted under the infernal altar the blood of a human sacrifice. The surmise of an origin not very recent, is suggested by the appearance of something more virulent and inveterate in the quality of the being, than could have grown from inhabiting any small number of malignant substances and forms. Whether this may not have been an instance of a sacrilegious sinner doomed to “ pass,” according to the Institutes of Menu, (page 352), “a thousand times into the bodies of spiders, of snakes, or mischievous toad-sucking demons,” it is not for us to pretend to determine. It is also difficult to guess how the last transit was suffered to go into the veritable or apparent shape of a man, if that improvement of condition was in any possible connexion with amendment of quality. But yet, on consideration, this
may perhaps be partly explained; for as there is in the creature one good quality, this may be come in the place of a bad one : this good property is honesty, as opposed to hypocrisy.
The several preceding remonstrants against the measures for imparting Christian instruction to the Hindoos, while in effect presenting themselves as the abettors of paganism, with all its abominations, were disposed notwithstanding to keep up a certain language of pretended respect for Christianity. Their hypocrisy was indeed clumsily managed, just in proportion to their ignorance of the nature of the sacred cause which was to be mocked