Sidor som bilder

thing ; secondly, that each intelligence also perceives substances outside itself.

I perceive that this ivory, which I hold in my hand, is made up of substance. That is enough. I need no postulate about the future. What purpose of mine the ivory as such serves today, it will serve the same so long as it remains ivory. I know that truth of the ivory in the future, when I know the present being and action of the body. For, according to the scholastic axiom, Quo aliquid est, eo agit, the ivory, remaining what it is, cannot naturally cease to act as it does. The axiom quoted is bound up in the very notion of active_being, or natural substance. But destroy Substance—as Dr. Bain's Law of Relativity does destroy it—and what pledge of the future does any present relation contain ? None whatever. In that case, it is too much to postulate, that what holds now under a certain tenure will hold under the same tenure next moment. To be sure it will; but not on Dr. Bain's principles. Denying Substance, he is "stuck fast in the mire of the deep, where there is no standing-ground;" * he is "come into the depths of the sea, and the storm has overwhelmed” him. He may“ labour, crying till he is hoarse," the postulate, basis of induction, cannot be granted to him.

There is left one part of Dr. Bain's doctrine, mentioned by me at the beginning, and not since discussed. I allude to his theory of truth, that whatsoever any mind thinks true, is true for that mind. In his own plain words :

There neither is, nor can be, any universal standard of truth, or matters which ought to be believed. Every man is in this case a standard to himself.t

I wish that, on this matter, Dr. Bain would re-study the passage in Plato's “ Theatetus," 166-71 and 178-9; not blinding himself to the text with the dust of Mr. Grote's comments. There he will find objected the apparent impossibility, on this Protagorean ground, of any man falling into error. I know the ready rejoinder, “None is ever mistaken, in his own conceit, though his neighbours may think him mistaken." I accept the amendment. But what when the man himself admits that he has been in the wrong? Is it that he was right to himself, when he thought himself right, and now he is wrong to himself in that particular wherein he was right to himself before? But if he is wrong now in having held that opinion,

[ocr errors]

* Ps. 69. Non est substantia, Lat. Vulg., -o'k totiv Ürbotaois, Sept.

+ "Emotions and Will,”—Emotions, chap. xv. § 9. Read the whole of $$ 7, 8, 9.

he must have been somehow wrong in holding it then ; else why change a right opinion ? Because such change is useful, convenient, and recommendable for practical purposes? Well, let him think it not recommendable, then it will lose its recommendations for him; and for himself—that is all the egotist is concerned about-he may remain tranquil and consistent. Then,

Si fractus illabatur orbis,

Impavidum ferient ruinæ. Indeed the ruins will not strike him at all; he need only think that the frame of the universe is standing, and stand it will, for him. This is the farcical scene that we play, when we deck out created ignorance and weakness in the attributes of the Almighty and All-True. For He only is in His thought essentially infallible, who in His volition is irresistible. He is the Standard of truth to every man, who is the Author of whatever any man knows or is. Some such standard there must be, and it can be none other than God.

I argue the existence of such a standard, as well from the absurdities, already alleged, which its negation involves, as from the universal distinction, which all men draw, between “ Truth” and “My conviction of truth.” It is the old battle of the external world over again. We will not reiterate it; but this I will ask, “Who does not at heart believe that his conviction may fail, but truth abides for ever?"*

There is a third rejoinder bearing upon the free-thinking position, Whatever a man, believes is true for him. What means the phrase, true for him? Does it mean simply, believed by him? Then the position is a tautology. Whatever a man believes is certainly believed by him; is that all? Or does true for him mean good for him to believe ? Then the position is a falsehood. Man often believes what is not good for him to believe. The Pope's infallibility, believed by Catholics, furnishes an instance ad hominem. We hold firmly to that dogma, bad for us as it is, in Dr. Bain's view. Therefore, if matters which ought to be believed ” are the matters which are good to be believed, it is wrong, not in my view merely, but in Dr. Bain's, to say as he does, "Every man is in this case a standard to himself.” Nay, it would not be difficult to prove, by my opponent's principle of the uniformity of nature, that the list of matters which are good to be believed is the same for all men in the same circumstances. Hence it follows,

* Veritas Domini manet in æternum ; and that precisely because it is veritas Domini, not veritas hominis.

defining truth as that which is good for inan to believe, that there is one list of true propositions, one standard, that is, of truth. We call this standard Absolute Truth. The beliefs of individual minds, according with the standard, are relative truths; lacking that accordance, they are errors.

There are indeed cases where absolute truth is not that which is good for a certain individual man to believe. For a maniac, deception may be better than truth. Such cases, however, are abnormal, and arise from some disorder in the believer. Absolute Truth is better for men in their normal state to believe than to deny. Else why censure the “pious fraud,” which Dr. Bain says the Jesuits " formally avow,” that “of preaching doctrines, in themselves false, as being favourable to morals and social order"? *

If there is a truth, to which all intellects must bow, or err, that truth is with God. It cannot be any human opinion, quâ human. We say that such a man, or such a society, are authorities on such a question; we do not thereby mean that they decide how the matter shall lie, but they agree with an Authority above them, which agreement gives a representative value to their decision. The common appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober shows that it is not Philip simply who is the ultimate judge of right. If he could take the title of “our own great delegate," his judgment would be righteous at all times.

And this leads me to touch a matter, which no man can handle but very lightly and on the surface; a matter which none should handle without reverence: I mean the origin and derivation of truth from God. There are many forms of proof, confirmatory of the existence of a Being of Beings. Each form will commend itself to its own cast of mind. A great mechanist, or physical philosopher, I suppose, would be impressed with some argument concerning the Prime Mover. For me, my reason is led straightest to Deity when I reflect upon the multitude of affirmations that must be true, now and now and every now, though man is too ignorant, too forgetful, too preoccupied, to affirm them. And do not tell me that they are merely things affirmable, and not affirmations, for were they pure affirmables and no more, the facts which they concern would not actually hold good. Sir Isaac Newton found that one planet attracted another according to the inverse square of the distance between their centres. Where had that truth lain, formularized though hidden, for fifty-six centuries since Adam, and for æons of geological time

[blocks in formation]

before Adam yet walked the already old earth? If the Angels knew it, who told it to them? Pythagoras discovered a geometrical theorem, and sacrificed a hecatomb in gratitude. Did he invent the theorem ? If it was not invented, but only unveiled by man, in what abyss of wisdom did it lie, deep yet clear, from eternity? How many acts have we ourselves done in secret, and forgotten them? How many passing words have we spoken? How many ideas and desires have we just formed and abandoned? Where is the roll of this history kept ? Where is the archive-room? It is not history, they are not facts, if there is no memorial of them. Meditating upon these things, my mind is raised to the inference of an Infinite and Immutable Intelligence; i.e. an Infinite and Immutable Being, that understands Himself thoroughly, understands too all other beings, actual or possible, in Himself. Not in Himself, as the pantheists teach, for then the vilest of mankind would take precedence of God, since man is still a person, while God would be a medley of things; but in Him. self, so far forth as His Being is the Archetype on which theirs is modelled; His Understanding, the Glass whereon His Being, and all that is or can resemble Him, finds reflection ; His Will, the Mighty Hand, that draws creatures from the Ocean of possibility, and leaves as much behind as it draws.

There is mystery here, I confess, but it is what I may venture to style reasonable mystery. It is mystery logically attained from an acceptance of known facts. It is a mountain too high for us to climb; but a mountain that is not reared by filching away the lowlands about which we ordinarily disport. It is a monument of the limitation of our being and knowledge, and yet a voucher that something we know, and something we are. It is the solution of the riddle of life. It indicates whence we came, and whither we are to go. It lays a yoke upon our necks, and converts the same into a collar of free service. It wounds our pride unto death, and heals our loneliness. An enemy-I call nothing human by that name-has hung a cloud over this Delectable Mountain, and in the same cloud he has wrapped the commonest assurances of our nature. He has drawn this pernicious curtain by the agency of a mistaken metaphysician, whom he has deceived. I have put forward a hand to tear the curtain down; if I have been rude or preposterous, I pray God and man forgive my violence, and teach me, not better intentions, but better grace and skill.




The Life and Times of Sictus the Fifth. By Baron HÜBNER. Translated

from the Original French by HUBERT E. H. JERNINGHAM. 2 vols. London : Longmans, Green, & Co. 1872.


TE offer Mr. Jerningham our sincere congratulations. tedious and trying task. The book which Mr. Jerningham undertook to translate offered (as he himself remarks in his brief and modest preface) peculiar difficulties to the translator. But all his difficulties, both those which are common to translation in general and those which were proper to his own special work, Mr. Jerningham has overcome. We would, however, wish to say that, while the phrase " the sun never set upon the Spanish king's dominions" is defensible, the similar phrase which Mr. Jerningham employs (vol. i. p. 6), “ the sun never set within the boundaries of the Spanish king's dominions,” is nonsense. In vol. i. p. 82, it is said that " Michael Angelo

would never have painted either his 'Last Judgment or his 'Moses.'” Michael Angelo's “ Moses” is a piece of scuipture, and not a piece of painting, Mr. Jerningham might have learned as much from vol. ii. p. 81, where he himself writes, “ later only, the painter of the Last Judgment,' the sculptor of Moses,' appeared in Rome as an architect.” Occasionally, too, his sentences lack the requisite unity, by reason of his loose employment of the relative pronoun or copulative conjunction. For instance, in the very first page of the first volume we have the following sentence :-" The work of Gregorio Leti does not reflect either wit or style, and was published for the first time at Lausanne,” which reminds us very much of the young gentleman who wrote in his Theme that “Lord Byron was the greatest poet of modern times, and was very much attached to whisky and water." These mistakes, we are aware, are as much the mistakes of Baron Hübner as of Mr. Jerningham. But, while Mr, Jerningham has a perfect right to claim indulgence for “the literal rendering of many phrases which have no equivalent in English,” he can have no apology for sanctioning the propagation of loose, ungrammatical writing. Still we must say he is not a habitual sinner. Of offences such as those we have referred to the two volumes do not contain half a dozen more; and we have referred to

« FöregåendeFortsätt »