Page images

Churchmenor Puritans have handed down that heave and break in pieces your refrom the hoary past.

ceived opinions, all because there are no A neighbor of ours told us, a few days good metaphysics to take their place? since, of a singular piece of ground, an Whence, too, in matters more important, alluvial deposit, which, notwithstanding even things the most sacred, the power its unfitness, had been occupied for build- of Hume, or Strauss, or Emerson, or Paring; much difficulty had been encounter- ker? whence all that has been done ed in preparing secure foundations, and against Revelation, in the name of phimany methods devised to fix them firmlylosophy, except that a superficial or Not long ago, in opening a new portion of false philosophy has had the field too it, for a foundation wall, the workmen much to itself, and sounder science has struck upon what seemed to be a firm been too slow to come to the rescue, or stratum of indurated clay, or hard-pan, as the friends of the truth have been content it is called. It seemed to be firm and to fight with that old woman's weapon of strong enough to build upon, and forth- received opinions? Whence, in short, with they began to lay a heavy wall; the energy and success of the destructives, till an unlucky wight, striking an iron in all ages, in breaking down the old bar into a thinner spot than common, felt foundations of good institutions, except the shell break through, and the bar slide that the conservatives have either been from his hands plump down into the quick- too negligent to examine whether their sand. This hard-pan not unaptly repre. foundations were of God, or too remiss to sents the received opinions of men, when repair the breaches, or too lazy to build made a basis for science. It is at unequal when they found and felt the rock. Not depths; here it rises, there it sinks. To so thought and acted Socrates, as Plato the boy who is mortally afraid of the re reports him, against the destructives of taphysics of grammar, it is near the sur his day; and hence is it not in vain that face; to the fopling literateur, it lies some we recommend our scholars to the scienwhat deeper ; to the mere popular preach- tific spirit of the divine philospher. er, or brawling demagogue, an inch or two The truth of the case is, that as long lower, perhaps. But they are all afraid as men exist, so long will they reason, to have it disturbed, lest it shall cost them and so long will there be philosophy of the labor of finding a foundation that is some sort. As long, too, as men reason, deeper or better; or lest they shall tum- there will be some men who will wish ble buildings, inhabitants and all, into the to reason to the botlom, some that they bottomless gulf beneath; or, most of may wish to pull down, others that they all, lest they shall lose their tools of may build securely. There will be phitrade.

losophy good or bad, and metaphysics And yet there are men who will use either false or true.

In this country, metaphysics for evil, if philosophers will where everything is controlled by opinion, not for good. There are those who will is it especially needed that sound opinions dig through your hard-pans for you, if should be ably and thoroughly defended. you will not for yourself. What is a Especially is this the case in regard to French Revolut on, but an awful caving matters pertaining to government and law. in of bad foundations, through the busy These stand or fall with opinions; or if pickaxes of sundry not very deep diggers, we rest them on fashion, or good habits, either? What


Socialist schemes of or their actual workings, we may find society, but the setting up of imposing that these, one and all, are not a match shingle palaces, on the thinnest possible against metaphysics from the hall of the crust, over the most liquid of all quick. Jacobins and ethics from the moon. So sands? What are your abolition ethics long as the convictions of men are based of legal slavery, as in all possible cases a on a sound philosophy, so long will they malum per se. What your third-party uphold these institutions. We need them; principles of patriotism, that to stop a of all things do we most need a moral Teak would cleave the ship from stem to philosophy based as deeply as the most stern ? What your church dividing phi- keen-sighted sophist will go, and which lanthropy, that would fire the temple by shall leaven and control our educated the blaze from its own altar? What If we may have it, we secure a your“ no union with slave holders,” your most important conservative element to “non-resisting,” “no holding of office," our fermenting social fabric. Especially not even of that of a jus:ice of the peace? is this needed by our law-makers and What are all these but bad metaphysics, Jurists. All administered law justifies


itself by reasons of equity. It depends people, remotely and consequentially infor its sacredness and force on the soul of deed, though not inconsiderably." justice as seen and recognized. Hardly can a decision be uttered from the bench, But how great is the value to be ator a charge given to a jury, in which tached to the opinions of Plato, as opinprinciples of moral or political ethics are ions? What is the worth of his teachnot involved and discussed; every such ings as scientific truth ? How high audecision or charge is, in fact, a lecture on thority is to be conceded to his dicta, in some point in moral science. And yet respect to points that in this age come up how often, and by acute and learned in new shapes, and to doctrines that have judges too, are they given forth in a grown ou of the new phases of modern manner immethodical, superficial and slo. science. Neither our limits nor our devenly, with a conclusion that is likely to sign will allow us to give an extended be correct, but which does not justify it answer to these inquiries. To do it would self as it should ; in which the statute be to write a commentary on the Platonic and common law are learnedly quoted Philosophy. and skillfully put, but the highest law of This much, however, we would say. all is not more than half methodized or There have in all ages been two schools mastered. And yet we are told that law. in philosophy—the school of truth and yers as a class, and even learned and wise the school of error. Plato was in the lawyers, are averse to metaphysics and school of truth. There have ever been moral philosophy. Surely they know two sorts of philosophers--sceptics who not how much the dignity of their own are also sophists and seekers after truth. science depends upon this scientia scien To sophists and sceptics Plato was a tiarum.

sworn and inveterate foe. Then, loo, it The study of Plato by our scholars is impossible that a man should earnestly would be of no slight service in correct- seek for the truth, especially in morals ing these evils. would imbue them, and theology, and not find the truth, at as by a, charm, with a more truly philo- least in some measure.

Plato was greatsophic spirit. It would lead them to great with a giant's proportions--in intelhonor moral science as the mother of all lect and heart-and he sought the truth the sciences, who gives to them their with the earnestness of a devotee; and highest dignity, and to whom the filial he found it--found it in a measure that homage of all should cheerfully be ren- may excite our wonder at his almost dered. It is the spirit of genuine phi- inspired wisdom-and held it with a faith losophy that Plato imparts. It is the phic and fervor that may put us to shame. losophy that inquires that she may learn First of all, in regard to moral truth-hat learns that she may believe-and the truth which concerns man's duty and that believes that she may love and obey. his highest well-being. This he found It is not the philosophy that questions in with surprising correctness, and uttered order to doubt, and that doubts because in words of divine eloquence. The prishe likes not to believe. Such a philos- mal truths of man's moral nature, as also ophy as his—thorough-going, fearless, of the duties which grow out of this naand scholariike—the product of an intel- ture, are warmly and truly seen, and delect that is acute and well-disciplined, and clared with warmth and force. But surely of a heart that beats warm and true, would it is no dishonor to Plato, to believe that be at once the strength and ornament of this same moral nature may, and ought to our literature, and the surest and cheapest be, subjected to a more searching analysis, defence of our republic. All institutions and the ethics to which it points us may, would feel its strength. It would give and ought to be, enforced with a more principles and method to all the sciences, exact discrimination. To insist on retainand lend dignity and authority to all the ing his nomenclature, or to be content professions.

with reaffirming his analysis, or to feel bound to defend his opinions, is surely

not to act the most in the spirit of his “ Prevailing studies are of no small con

philosophy. sequence to a state-the religion, manners, and civil government of a country ever

So too in respect to the divine nature taking some bias from its philosophy, which and administration, Plato sought for and affects not only the minds of its professors asserted much that is wondrous, as coming and students, but also the opinions of the from a man like him. But to suppose better sort and the practice of the whole that he exhausted the entire field of ar

gument, or that his eye saw so deeply as —and the rebuke which it speaks is ter. to anticipate all the advantages of recent rible. If anything could penetrate the poscience, or to believe that his arguments lished mail of their sleek self-complacenare necessarily all logical, or the most cy, and call up the voice of their beiter convincing in their method, is to do himn nature, it would be the thought of what the worst of all injuries, by asserting for Plato was in his age, and of what they him claims which cannot be made good, are in theirs—he, the cheerful lark that and thus to subject him to loss in the scents the morning sun not yet arisen, good opinion which otherwise we might and soars away to meet him as he comes have secured.

from the gate of heaven, and they the In intellectual science, and the science owl at mid-day, that of being, the prima philosophia, Plato gives us views of comprehensive truth, “ Closes his blue-fringed lids, and criesand establishes principles that will never • Where is it.'” be shaken, because the intellect and heart both demand them. But his views are

The arguments, too, which Plato uses many of them at best but very general; against the knowing Epicureans of his often are they asserted in language in the day, are none of them amiss as urged highest degree figurative, which it would against the very knowing ones of these be wild and idle to consider strictly scien- times. Would that the growth of the titic; often, too, are they propounded as genuine followers of Plato were at all in opinions of the wise and good, rather proportion to the ranker growth of the than triumphantly fought out on the field disciples of Lucretius! The contrast, of argument. To be satisfied with his however, would have lost nothing in its terminology as of course the best, to quote force, and the rebuke none of its power, his dicta as of decisive authority, and to if Dr. Lewis had acknowledged all that seek to find too much in the sayings or is noble in the wonders of modern scithe mythi which he uttered as mystic ence, rather than appeared to denounce parables, because he could not seize the and despise it altogether. So, too, if he scientific statement, is to rob his name and had been less contemptuous in his air, his system of their highest honor and less peremptory in his judgments, and usefulness.

less ferocious in his attacks on those Now it has happened that no philoso- whom he could influence—he would have pher has suffered so much from his ad- made a stronger and more useful book. mirers as Plato. No man has so much We think that he has not sufficiently reason to pray, “ Save me from my heeded the very excellent advice given in friends.” These, in the intensity of their pp. 10 and 11 of the book he has so ably zeal, have asserted claims for him which editedthe truth could not sustain. They have called to the study of his writings by λαιμαργίας ηδονής, ήμών, τους δ' υπό του θυ

«Ου γαρ άμα γε δεί μανήναι, τους μεν, υπο promises which he could not fulfil, and μούσθαι τοις τοιούτοις.ίτω δή πρόρρησις τοιάδε hence have such been disappointed and τις άθυμος τους όυτω την διάνοιαν διεφθαρμέrepelled. Had there been fewer Platoni νοις και λέγωμεν πράως σβέσαντες τον θυμον, , zers, there would have been more Platonists. Had Plato had fewer extrava With these critical suggestions, wegive gant admirers, he would have found more our testimony to the ardor, and enthusigenuine disciples and heartier friends. If asm even, with which Dr. Lewis has Prof. Lewis had kept in mind these facts, edited the volume. He has read his auwe think that he would have made a thor abundantly and read him out of love, more perfect book. He is not unaware of and brought together in his notes many them, it is true, as is evident from sundry of the most striking passages that illuspassages in his dissertations. Had he trate themes and thoughts of this Tenth asserted them oftener, and subjected his Dialogue. His suggestions are many of author to a sterner criticism, he would in them striking, his references to the Scripour view have rendered him a higher tures numerous, many of them happy, honor, as well as given a more valuable some of them powerful--and the book is offering to the cause of true science. altogether worthy to be commended to

We commenced the design of contrast- those for whom it was intended. There ing the Theism of Plato with the Atheism, are few scholars in this country who or whatever may be called the godless could have prepared such a volume. We philosophy, of so many of the votaries of trust that there will be found more than natural science. The contrast is striking a few who will read it.

k. T. 2."



• A Bear Hunt forsooth! and what in- gross types of sense, wearing the shapes terest have the readers of the American of most familiar creatures, or acting Review in the roars and growls of te through the common elements of things. slaughtering? We look into some • Spirit

“ Miracles of the Times for the annals of savage Are so impounded now by the stern laws sports—but here we expect to find some

Of sentient things, that poor short-sighted thing more of the ambrosial, seasoning Reason, pabulum catered for our coyer gustation! Yielding the divination up to Faith, Bravo, good voluptuary! But if there Submits these revelations under Rule be sermons in stones, and the minnow. As only given to her far ken !" rippled, silvery, gabbling brooks be all

Miracles are above us, around us, and oracular, and the mute trees yet panto- beneath us—it is only when the higher mime of homilies--not to speak of the

sense bends its deep inner vision upon obstreperous tongue-nimble-stroked-- them, that we recognize them so. The of “ cross-quick lightning,” which, “in

very triteness of the incidents and imathe dead vast and middle of the night," gery through which they appeal to our doth fright us with its ethics. If, I say,

eyes, “ever staring, wide propped at marthese have, every one, high teachings of vels, or lazily glouting on the moon,” their own—why may there not be more in the metaphysics of Bear Hunting than port. But are they the less miraculous,

prevents the recognition of their imhas been dreamt of in your fireside that our own stultification will not perphilosophy? We are human enough to mit us to see them thus? There are be Pantheistic in our tastes. We love times though, when they come to us right this linking of the invisible with forms solemnly, in sternness, in strangeness, —this association with the material gives through chastenings; when the veil it to the palpable. Every thought of is torn aside, and we are made to look mirth, or vision of delight, is ours for

in awe on holy hidden things—to tremever, when, clothed in fit habiliments, ble and believe. At such times, our we have given it a local habitation

stolidity is no refuge, “we know that we and a name.”

do see.” And when that time is passed, “ These are the adept's doctrines; every what are the symbols and the images element

through which that truth dwells forever Is peopled with its separate race of spirits: after with the soul? The accidents The airy Sylph on the blue ether floats, through which the Godhead came-the Deep in the earthy caverns skulks the material forms through which he was Gnome,

made visible! Be they pigmy or huge The sea-green Naiad skims the ocean bil. in man's esteem—they ever, henceforth, low,

in one certain collocation, must stand And the fierce fire is yet a friendly home

linked, the eternal, moveless, silent witTo its peculiar sprite, the Salamander !”

nesses of that revelation, and of God Now, though at this present writing, against the soul. When we would rewe shall have no special dealing with produce for other wayfarers, the lessons Sylph, Naiad, Gnome, or Salamander, we vouchsafed to us-how, in what betwould submit whether the century-lived ter way can it be done, than by dragglory of that antique Faith, be not re- ging from under the broken seals of the ferable to this “bodying forth” of past that deep-lined imagery, in the arrare ideals with all the circumstance of ray God stamped it on our life, that

earthly house,” a name-of the brother souls may regard it. Perhaps chisel and the pencil! So in these lat- they, too, may see the miracle and be ter times, when a truth coines to us out moved, as we were. Though a thousand from the Infinite--that is to abide with eyes might look on the same facts, and us—it is sent, not with the destroying sneer that you talked of God! Yet splendors of its source, but through the there are those with the “gift and fa

[ocr errors]

Some portions of these adventures were originally printed in an obscure newspaper, some time since deceased.--THE AUTHOR.

culty divine,” who know when to sneer and what the sun had spared—when the wisely,—if they sneer at all! The habit tinkling trample of the curt, gray frost ual cynic is—in plain words--a fool ! went over them—were snapped and He does not see beyond his own nose, or strewed-stark in their own beauties-dream that anybody else has either a dead! The glory and the joy passed longer nose than himself, or a stronger from the earth with them—a huge Desovision; should such an one announce Jation spinning on its poles—I stood up, that he had seen, a stone's throw off, le on its wide blank, deaf and blind, diable! what a wretch! The opinion with one word burning in ghastly light of such noseologists to the contrary, we through darkened brain and soul--a curse! aver that Faith can find « the evidence It was a purpose-it was a savage exof things unseen,” only as it is mated stacy, to live to curse all,-God, woman, with the actual—how can it be thought man ! To walk through life till I chose or expressed otherwise ?-and this ne. to die, hating and defiant. I laughed cessity for the actual, is the true old hoarsely as I hugged the pleasant madPantheistic element, though modern ethics ness to my heart. O, rare and miribful. will be gravely horrified by the profane lest conceit! Revenge! Hate! Scorn! juxtaposition ! The Elder Penatese Ha! ha! right royal brotherhood, for were things—ours are words; but not the stout spirit. What a carnival the the less things for all that, if they be game of life will be to us-only we won't sacred

ihrow sugar plumbs.

I lie down upon Well, what does all this lead to? We the grass and sob and pule like a tripping are not very clear ourselves, unless we Cupid over his crushed flowers ? Manly classify it under an indefinite article, employment that! when here is a world as “the premonitaries !”—premising that swarming with fools to scorn; and a

thereby hangs a tale,”-a tale--though wide air tremulous with the beat of it be a " Bear story,”—of higher import hearts to trample on; a universe pregand severer teachings than the name nant with some hideous Power, to be dewould promise: which traces and ar fied! And then the proud exultation--to ranges the progress and the incidents stalk on beneath his own lights, wrong. which led to a new birth of the spiritual life ing his creatures, and taunting him to within us. Which taught us, a mad and send his bolts! A new energy was posraving sceptic, through the simplest and sessing me. Life became stronger than it most natural means--curiously enough had ever been before, though my body presented indeed--that first and most sub was wasting. When the first wild whirl lime of truths--God is! Which has of this delirious excitement had passed linked the “ pathless desolation” and away, the horrible transformation was “the lowly instrument” forever with our completed, for an ashy-pale, cold twimemories of adoring gratitude, of love light, which no sunshine could dispel or and awe, and left them to us the sentient warm, had settled upon my whole being demonstrations, strong as proof of holy -an icy ring palpably clung around my writ, of a benevolent and active Provi- heart which beat sharply and fast in the dence--wielding appreciable laws inscru- centre—my forehead was cold, but the tably on our behalf !

brain was seething and glowing behind But now for our story! As is the case it. I felt a chill unnatural flaming in my with most hot-blooded dreamy enthusi- eyes. I was afraid to look at them; asts, life very soon reacted upon me. In. I saw little children shrink in affright as deed I had scarcely stepped beyond the they gazed at me. Then I knew there threshold of the closet and found myself was hate and hell in them, and felt glad under the sun, out in the broad world, (for there was some of the old leaven left before the sickness of revulsion came over in spite of me) that Innocence would be me. I felt the thin wings of the delicate alarmed of its own instincts, and avoid visions I had nurtured in scholastic shades, I was stolidly sullen or hysterically wilt and curl up, as I have seen the dew- merry, and felt the strangest inclination flower petals beneath a flaming noon. to laugh when I saw others weep. I en. Ah! a grievous sickness—almost unto joyed the whinings of a funeral beyond death--that was, when I saw those exexpression. I would hide my face in my quisite frail things all dying. They were handkerchief, and laugh until my sides the creatures of the soul's first spring- ached at what were 10 others the most time, of softer glowing hues, and breath- touching exhibitions of grief. But the ing fresher odors than ever come again; sympathetic furor of religious enthusiasm


« PreviousContinue »