Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

as matter does of mind, and can no more be affected, as to its vital essence, by the destruction of the body, than Sirius would be by the extinction of our entire solar system.

Not only are the vital functions of the body independent of our will, but each of our organs has been endowed, without any consent or previous knowledge on our part, with powers admirably suited to its purpose;—powers which are not the result of life either of the mind or the body, but of special legislation, founded on premeditated design, and accomplishing an adaptation of means to end, wonderful for their perfection. Thus the heart, to which the lover appeals as the seat of his ardent feelings, as the most sensible organ of his system, may be rudely pressed by the hand without conveying to him the sensation that it has been touched. Harvey's celebrated experiment puts this fact beyond a doubt. It happened that a youth of the noble family of Montgomerie had his interior exposed in an extraordinary manner, in consequence of an abscess in the side of the chest, which was caused by a fall. The youth was introduced to the presence of Charles I., and Harvey, putting one hand through the aperture, grasped the heart, and so held it for some time without the young man being at all conscious that any new object was in contact with it. Other observations have since confirmed this discovery, and the heart is now universally declared by medical men to be insensible! Nevertheless we all well know that the heart is affected not only by the emotions of the mind, but by every change that takes place in the condition of the body. Here then is a complete proof of design. The heart insensible to touch, which, from its internal position, it was never intended to experience, is yet sensibly alive to every variation in the circulation of the blood, and sympathizes in the strictest manner with the powers of the constitution^ There is nothing, however, in the mere principle of life, still less in the physical texture of the heart, to give it insensibility to touch, and sensibility to feeling of the most active and refined description. As life is animation added to the body when formed, so this peculiar susceptibility of the heart is an endowment added to the organ by Him who made it.

Natural philosophers, in explaining the laws of vision, assure us that the image of the external object is painted on the retina by the rays of light, which, reflected from the object, are refracted by the lens of the eye. But they have not yet been able to discover by what process the presence of that image, if indeed it be painted on the retina, is conveyed to the mind. We are, and ever shall be, ignorant of the mode in which matter is spiritualized into idea.

'All that we can say is,' observes Sir Charles Bell, ' that the agiVol. L. No. xcix. D tations tations of the nerves of the outward senses are the signals which the Author of Nature has made the means of correspondence with the realities. There is no more resemblance between the impressions on the senses and the ideas excited by them, than there is between the sound and the conception raised in the mind of that man who, looking out on a dark and stormy sea, hears the report of cannon, which conveys to him the idea of despair and shipwreck—or between the impression of light on the eye, and the idea of him who, having been long in terror of national convulsion, sees afar off a column of flame, which is the signal of actual revolt.'—p. 170.

Innumerable and powerful as are the arguments in favour of the existence of an Omnipotent and benevolent Creator, derived from external matter and the physical constitution of man, those that arise from the phenomena of mind are of pre-eminent force and dignity. The Great Parent of intelligent beings must be himself of the highest order of intelligence; and he who gave to the mind that innate sense of right and wrong which we call conscience, must be the personification of all the virtues. But we must not attempt, at present, to go into this great argument.

Akt. II.—The Infirmities of Genius illustrated by referring the Anomulies of the Literary Character to the Habits and Constitutional Peculiarities of Men of Genius. By R. R. Madden, Esq., Author of 'Travels in Turkey.' 2 vols. London. 1833. TJ ERE is a good subject sadly marred. An endeavour to trace, on philosophical, medical, and Christian principles, the secret connexion between men's tempers and talents and the material organization of their bodies, would be at least interesting, e>ven though, as we incline to believe, the mystery in which it has pleased the Creator to involve the connexion between body and soul should necessarily render it a doubtful and imperfect theory. Mr. Madden seems to have had some vague design of this sort in his head; but to the natural difficulties of the subject he appears to add a peculiar degree of personal incapacity for such an inquiry. Our readers will recollect that, on our examination* of Mr. Madden's ' Travels in Turkey,' we saw reason to suspect that he was superficial, inaccurate, and presumptuous—that on his assertions a very qualified reliance should be placed, and on his inferences—none. This work justifies all those opinions. Mr. Madden is, moreover, singularly ignorant of the class of men and facts that he has now undertaken to discuss; in general learning he seems to be below what is called a smatterer, and the turn of his mind is

* Quarterly Review, No. LXXXII. p. 44L

evidently evidently neither accurate in observation, precise in distinction, sagacious in analysis, nor comprehensive in synthetical combination. We suspect that he is little versed in medical, and still less in moral, philosophy; and though his pages are illustrated with great names and copious quotations, he gives us the impression of knowing of the men and the books he mentions little more than the name. His very title-page affords, we think, proof of these deficiencies. Let us examine it:—he proposes • to illustrate the infirmities of genius by referring the anomalies of the literary character to the habits and constitutional peculiarities of men of genius.' What we ask, in the first place, is the distinction between the ' infirmities of genius,' which are to be illustrated, the anomalies of character which are to be the medium, and the * habits and constitutional peculiarities of men of genius,' which are to be the standard, of the illustration? Is there any idea conveyed by this announcement which would not have been equally expressed if he had said, 'the infirmities of genius illustrated, by referring the infirmities of genius to the infirmities of genius.' Probably by 'infirmities,' Mr. Madden may mean mental infirmities, and by ' constitutional peculiarities,' corporeal infirmities; but ' habits' joined to ' constitutional peculiarities' seem to imply, that moral peculiarities are also included: but, after all, if we were to admit that there may be a distinction between the first and last members of Mr. Madden's proposition, what is the use or meaning of the middle term, 'anomalies of the literary character'? This vague and at best colloquial enunciation of his design is, as we shall see, quite of a piece with the style in which the book itself proceeds.

We may here observe, also, that the title-page affords us a curious specimen of the author's scholarship: his motto is, ' Qui ratione corporis non habent, sed cogunt mortalem immortali, terrestrem sethertE cqualem prestare industriam;' and for this sentence he refers us to Plutarch de Sanitate tuenda. We should lay no stress on the mere press-errors of this and almost every other classical quotation in the book, if they were not so general that it is impossible they can be merely accidental; but does Mr. Madden suppose that Plutarch is a Latin author? and if not, why does be give us this barbarous mutilation of Xylander's very indifferent translation of Plutarch's "Tytelva Yia^ayysXixara ?* While we are on the subject of quotations, we may as well dispose at once of Mr. Madden's pretensions to classical learning, on which, from

* Ut rations corporis non habeant, neque parcant succumbenti laboribus, sed eo^ant mortalem immortali ac terrestrem setherese sequalem prestare industriam." Xylander's version here, as almost always, is much less exact, as well as less elegant, than that of Erasmus.

D 2 his his frequent and ambitious display of it, we presume he sets great value, and of which therefore he would not forgive us if we did not take some little notice. Plutarch, we have seen, appears in the new character of a writer of very bad Latin; Sophocles, who has hitherto passed for a Greek tragedian, was, it seems, of the same school—

'Sophocles has lauded the beatitude of ignorance, " Nihil scire vita jocundissima." '*—vol. i., p. 37.

The distribution of the following lines leads us to suppose, that Mr. Madden fancies that some of the poetical works of Tacitus have been preserved, though we doubt whether Mr. Madden himself could ascertain the metre:—

'In large cities, at least, literature occupies the ground which politics and scandal keep possession of in small ones; in the time of Tacitus the evil was common to the communities of both:— "Vitium parvis magnisque civitatibus commune Ignorantium et invidiam." '—vol. i., p. 23. Every schoolboy knows the passage in the introduction of the Life of Agiicola, which, by misunderstanding and misprinting, our 'learned Theban ' has produced in this strange form. Hut if he exhibits Tacitus in verse, he balances the account by quoting ' an excellent old author,' who turns Horace into prose:—

'.Like those poets who will throw you off a hundred verses, "stanles in pede uno," as Horace has it'—(vol. i., p. 70) rather—we should have said—as Horace has it not.

'Ovid and Horace,' he says, ' afford specimens of self-complacency, "exegi monumentum seri perennius."—" Jamque opus exegi quod nec Jovisira," &c.—vol. ii., p. 146.

So—referenda singula singulis—Ovid may be supposed to be the author of the former boast and Horace of the latter. The following passage is of a higher flight both of English eloquence and classical Latinity. He denounces—(alluding to the posthumous publication of some of Lord Byron's satirical jeux d'esprit)— 'the deep, deliberate malignity of the literary jackal that steals away the provender of the mangled disjecta membri humanilatis for the "omni vorantia et homicida gula" of the savage community of his own species.'—vol. i. p. 1S7.

We say nothing of the new reading of mem&n for mem&ra, or of omni for, we suppose, omnia, but we wish that Mr. Madden had named the author to whom we are indebted for the latter quotation, which enriches the Latin language with two adjectives which we do not recollect to have met elsewhere,—vorantius, vorantia, vorantium, and homicidus, homicida, homicidvm!—and,

* We suppose this jocund scrap is the miscopied version, by some sclioolbcok editor, of U /»»»» yaf ur'av ti'2vr'f fi!t(.—Aj<ix Flag. 554.

; lest lest this choice scrap of erudition should be mistaken for the error of the printer, Mr. Madden carefully repeats the quotation ' omni vorantia gnda' in another place—vol. i. p. 271

From such blunders as these, we are obliged to conclude, that although Mr. Madden quotes, or we should rather say misquotes, very ostentatiously Sophocles, Plato, Xenophon, Hippocrates, Plautus, Horace, Ovid, Tacitus, Martial, St. Augustine, Ficinus, Plembius (Plempius), and the 'Sieur Xilander,' (Xylander) he kuows nothing of them beyond their names (and not always their names), and some extracts which he has picked up in other writers, and which, without thoroughly understanding, he has transferred, for the most part in a maimed and corrupted shape, into his own pages. His chief,, if not only source, is old Burton, who being generally so obliging as to give translations of what he quotes, is an invaluable repertorium to one who would be a scholar, with ' small Latin and no Greek.' Him, Mr. Madden plunders as profusely, though not quite so aptly, as did Squire Shandy, and his friend Dr. Slop. We select two or three instances out of fifty :—

'Surely,' says Ficinus, * scholars are the most foolish men in the world—other men look to their tools,' &c.—vol. i., p. 39. This translation from Ficinus is taken without acknowledgment from Burton, vol. i., p. 187, oct. erf., 1804.

'/Eneas Sylvius says he knew many scholars in his time, excellent, well-learned men, but so rude,' &c.—vol. i., p. 163. This passage from iEneas Sylvius is to be found in Burton, vol. i., p. 190.

'Those "labores hilares venandi," as Camden terms the field-sports of Staffordshire.'—vol. ii., p. 247.

One wonders why this phrase should be more especially applied to field-sports in Staffordshire, than in Derbyshire or Devonshire; but what Camden says is, that the gentry in the neighbourhood of Need wood forest (which happens to be in Staffordshire) pursued there the hilares venandi labores. Mr. Madden, we dare say, never saw Camden, but he found the quotation itself in the text of Burton, vol. i., p. 404—and in the marginal reference, * Camden, in Staffordshire,' and so, 'from text and margent,' compounded his own exhibition of learning.

Again—when he wishes to describe a pleasant walk, he talks with great pomp of ' Deambulatio per amcena loca.' vol. ii., p. 245. This quotation he finds also in Burton, vol. i., p. 407.

And to conclude this chapter, Burton, having occasion to quote the celebrated passage in the 6th iEneid— 'Pallentesque habitant morbi,' &c.

chose

« ElőzőTovább »