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tues equally necessary, and more characteristic of the devout Christian.
Sermons more readable than his can not be found. They interest all, because richly imbued with sentiments, and expressive of emotions which well up in all human hearts when the chords are touched by the hand of genius and of piety. The style is admirable, the thoughts are moving, and the expression unusually forcible and elegant. And singular to say, not one of these sermons was written out, until after delivery, and then only to gratify family friends.
Mr. Robertson was indeed (richly endowed with almost all the gifts and graces that go to make up a perfect man. In many things he reminds us of that other departed son of the Church, and gifted man, the Rev. Wm. Archer Butler. Inferior as a metaphysician, and perhaps as a scholar, he equalled him in devotion to the work of the ministry, and in a desire to do good, while in all matters of art, and ästhetics generally, he probably surpassed him. Professor Butler will long be a favorite with cultivated minds, and ever be regarded as docile a disciple as dutiful a son of the Church.
Robertson will become more widely known, have a larger circle of admirers, and not fail to do much good. Butler popularizes Platonism, and baptizes all philosophy into the faith of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Robertson makes current literature, and the latest results of science tributary to religion, and by the force of his genius transmutes the base metals of earth into the gold of the sanctuary. It is true, that after the process of transmutation, some base elements still appear, but not enough, we think, in the whole mass, to cause its condemnation as fit only for the fire.
On the contrary, escaping the notice of ordinary observers, it is easily separated in the alembic of thoughtful minds, and then becomes refined gold, as pure as before it was attractive.
We may add, that Mr. Robertson left the materials for several Lectures also, which have been republished in this country by Ticknor, in a style uniform with the Sermons. It is high praise to say of them, as we can, that they sustain the reputa tion of the preacher.
METAPHYSICS.* Nascitur non fit, is indisputably true of the poet, but only partly so of the philosopher. He must be both born and made; born with the philosophical faculty answering to the “fine frenzy" of the poet, and made, by mastering the thoughts of his predecessors, or he will infallibly be mastered by them. A man who affecting original thinking in metaphysics disre. gards what others have already thought, may pass for profound with those as ignorant as himself, but there is no danger that the delusion will become general. It is only among the blind that the one-eyed is voted a sceptre for his sharpness of vision. This fact explains both the origin and end of many a theory which scarcely lives long enough to see the light. It equally accounts for the perennial pleasure imparted by a few authors.
As guides in philosophy, Plato and Aristotle among the ancients, Des Cartes, Leibnitz, Hume, Kant, and Cousin, among the moderns, will flourish forever. And the reason is, that each had a genius for metaphysics, and each made the conclusions of his predecessors the starting-point of his own speculations. Sir William Hamilton belongs to this noble order both by right of birth and by virtue of his great attain. ments. He had the philosophical faculty and he had a perfect knowledge of the history of philosophy. It was this combination which made him the ablest metaphysician using the English tongue since Hume. Less subtle and skeptical than Hume, his knowledge was as superior as his love of paradox was less. Differing, toto colo, from Hume in matters of religious faith, he delighted to recognize and to eulogize his matchless acumen as a metaphysician. Reid and Stewart have been the great lights of accredited Scottish philosophy. Of these two, Reid was the more original thinker, Stewart the more elegant writer and general reader.
Sir William Hamilton surpasses them both in each particular. He is a greater philosopher than Reid, and if less polished in his diction, is far more learned than Stewart, and has a superior style for the subjects of which they both treat. He enjoys also the advantage of following these great men, and not them alone. He succeeds and profits by the speculations of the English Locke, the French Des Cartes and Malebranche, the German Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, and is the contemporary admirer and friend of the brilliant Cousin, to whom he dedicated his annotated edition of Reid, in terms honorable to both. It is now thirty years since he became as favorably as generally known to scholars by his article on Cousin in the Edinburgh Review, which, we believe, was the occasion of his elevation to the chair of Metaphysics and Logic in the University of Edinburgh. This was soon followed by other articles equally able, on Perception and on Logic. Since then, he has edited an edition of Reid with annotations as .valuable as the original text. These notes exhibit, as might be expected, substantially the same views as are now more fully expounded in the volume announced at the head of this article.
* LECTURES ON METAPHYSICS. By Sir WILLIAM HAMILTON, Bart., Prof. of Logic and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1859.
The earlier part of this volume is devoted to an earnest and able plea in behalf of metaphysical studies, a theme so interesting and important, that we propose to make it the subject of a special article in a future number of the REVIEW.
We omit here, also, an analysis of the Psychological portions of the work, merely premising that retaining the now generally received divisions and distributions of the several mental faculties, its development and discussion of them, will be found as satisfactory as any thing in the language. Consciousness and perception are the principal topics in this division of the work, and it is needless to say, they are learnedly and' luminously expounded. Referring our readers to the volume itself for particular knowledge of each point, we especially commend to their consideration the chapters (thirty-eighth, thirtyninth, and fortieth) relating to the regulative faculty and the laws which condition its application, with special reference to causality. It is in this part of the work that we find the fundamental feature of Sir William Hamilton's philosophy. In his own words : “The supreme law of thought is what is called
the principle of contradiction, or more correctly, the principle of non-contradiction. It is this : A thing can not be and not be at the same time; Alpha est, Alpha non est, are propositions which can not both be true at once. A second fundamental law of thought, or rather the principle of contradiction viewed in a certain aspect, is called the principle of excluded middle between two contradictories. A thing either is or it is notaut est Alpha aut non est; there is no medium; one must be true, both can not. These principles require, indeed admit of, no proof. They prove every thing, but are proved by nothing. All that is conceivable in thought, lies between two extremes, which, as contradictory of each other, can not both be true, but of which, as mutual contradictories, one must.” This is his general statement, which he proceeds to apply and make good by an exceedingly fresh and interesting discussion of our ideas of space and time, which he asseverates are not, and can not, be conceived of by us, as either bounded or unbounded, and hence equally removed from the finite and the infinite. Yet, in the last analysis they are, they must be, either the one or the other, either limited or unlimited. Only one of these hypotheses can possibly be true. This is what he calls "the Exclusive Middle Term,” which comprehends, includes all our knowledge of such subjects ; so bounded and limited are the faculties of man, so lame and impotent are his conclusions.
Here, then, as in a nutshell, we have the kernel of Sir William Hamilton's philosophy, the last word of the latest and greatest of the modern metaphysicians our language and lineage can boast of. What shall we say of it? Is it satisfactory? Is it conclusive? The answers returned will vary with the varying standpoints of individual minds. The religious bearings of this philosophy have already been presented in a vol. ume by Professor Mansel, of Oxford, a work of rare ability, which we notice below, and to which we refer for our opinion of this aspect of the subject.
Metaphysically, it has much to recommend it, for it is stated with the neatness, precision, and clearness which always characterize this illustrious author, but never more so, than when his thought culminates in this conclusion. The arguments he adduces are also marked by the same vigor. The philosopher advances with a self-poised assurancc and firm step. His movements are so easy as to inspire confidence both in the safety of the way over which he conducts us, and the security of the haven where he leaves us. Yet we are not entirely at our ease, though the fault may be our own. A doubt is ex. cited, however, by the recollection that other philosophers, may we not say the most gifted as well as most numerous, have taken a different route and reached another bay with a more pleasing prospect and a clearer horizon. Fundamentally considered, it is the old difference between Sir William Hamilton and his cotemporary, Cousin, between Locke and Leibnitz, between Plato and Aristotle.
Briefly stated it is this. Has man any knowledge of the absolute, the infinite, or does he mistake the indefinite for it? This is the conjecture of our author. He denies that man has any conception of the infinite, quoting Pascal, who says that "the infinite is infinitely incomprehensible.” And these are the weighty words of well-attuned minds, of profound thinkers.
On the other hand, Cousin, with no less learning and with equal genius, argues in favor of the opposite conclusion, as the glory of man achieved by the unalloyed apperceptions of his pure reason undisturbed by aught ab extra, a view in which he is ably sustained both by his masters and his disciples.
Surely such points of difference in minds of such calibre should make us pause and ponder well the several positions, as well as the considerations that seem to establish them. For ourselves, unable to assent wholly to either, we instinctively seek for a “via media” in which we may walk more safely than over either of these opposing routes of general travel. Let us grant, for example, that man can not conceive of the absolute and infinite in the sense of comprehending it, may it not be true, is it not true, that he has an apprehension of it? To say that it is not positive knowledge, in the sense of comprehension, is only to state the self-evident truth that the finite can not comprehend the infinite. Again, granted that man has not innate ideas, it is yet certain that he has innate faculties of ideas, “which have