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of the ocean;' he tells us that 'if the capacities of our understanding be well considered, the extent of our knowledge once discovered, and the horizon which sets the bounds between the enlightened and dark parts of things,-between what is and what is not comprehensible by us,-men would, perhaps, with less scruple acquiesce in the avowed ignorance of the one, and employ their thoughts with more advantage and satisfaction in the other.' Happy had all philosophers acted on such maxims! But it requires a great deal of courage (especially in a philosopher) frankly to say, 'I do not know,' and perhaps still more to say, 'I doubt if I ever shall.'
Acting on such maxims, it is refreshing to see with how firm a hand Locke at once applies the knife to those huge wens of 'ontology,' as it was called, which had so long impoverished and almost destroyed all healthy intellectual philosophy. It is thus he proceeds to indicate the principles on which he proposes to construct his great work, and, in doing so, shows how well he had pondered the limits of a just psychology. 'This, therefore, being my purpose, to enquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent; I shall not at present meddle with the physical consideration of the mind, or trouble myself to examine wherein its essence consists, or by what motions of our spirits, or alterations of our bodies, we come to have any sensation by our organs, or any ideas in our understandings; and whether those ideas do in their formation, any or all of them, depend on
matter or no.'
To restrict speculation to the limits within which alone philosophy is possible, is, of course, the prin cipal point in relation to what is the great object of all
philosophy-the discovery of TRUTH ; but to transcend those limits in intellectual philosophy is to violate this caution in the most flagrant, though, lamentable to say! the most common form. The very object, or at least the chief object, of this science is to teach us the extent of our faculties, and to develop and invigorate them by the robust discipline it imposes. To involve it in impossible speculation is to lose both benefits at once; to impair and fuddle the intellect at the same time.
The feelings with which one has been sometimes tempted to accompany adventurous speculators beyond the limits of a legitimate intellectual philosophy, and to penetrate the regions of the 'unconditioned,’—the clouds which lie beyond and above the elevations given to man to scale,-may be compared to those with which the lover of the picturesque, in mountain regions, is sometimes lured into a similar delusion. He is tempted, it may be, to ascend some unknown peak on which the clouds still rest, assured that they will clear off before the summit is reached. As the traveller ascends through the lower region, in the clear atmosphere, and with the ample landscape of valley, wood, and water clearly outspread before him, all is pleasant enough. As he approaches the belt of clouds, and begins to have misgivings, some of the party assure him that, if he will but go on, the whole will be presently clear. He complies; and first, all the discoveries of a lower elevation begin to be seen through a curtain of mist, their magnitudes are altered, their forms distorted, and ultimately their distinctive features lost. At last, he reaches a point where he can see nothing but a rolling cloud of vapour, which hides every object ten inches before his nose; and after standing wetted to the skin, and shivering in
'darkness visible' for a couple of hours or so, in which the envious clouds still envelope him,-now and then teased, perhaps, by a momentary rent in the veil, which seems to show him something, but too transiently to let him know what, he descends, and is glad to catch a glimpse of things in sunlight again. But for any purpose of pleasure or knowledge, in ascending those cloudy regions, he might as well have sat himself down at the base of the mountain and drawn a thick cotton nightcap over his head. Such seems to be the estimate pretty generally forming throughout not only England, but the Continent also, of the philosophical value of a vast deal of German speculation since the time of Kant. He, however uncouth his nomenclature, or wearisome his style, did at all events treat of subjects which are the fair domain of speculation, and which it may be presumed the human intellect will be in a condition to settle some day or other, and in one way or another; but as for many of his more ambitious successors, we observe that even folks in England, who, a few short years ago, would have been indulgent towards them, or gratuitously admired without understanding them, are beginning to distrust their own amiable modesty, which always assumed the unfathomable profundity of the writers as the sole cause of their being unintelligible. We observe that even M. Cousin, despairing apparently of the success of his early projects of 'Eclecticism,' at least in this direction, speaks, in a recent and interesting work, of certain tendencies of the detestable German philosophy,' in terms he would hardly have employed some years ago.* It reminds us of an
* The passage to which we refer occurs in the 'Avant-propos ' to his recently-published work, entitled 'Madame de Longueville; Nouvelles Etudes sur les Femmes Illustres et la Société
expression in Sir James Mackintosh's 'Journal,' which, as extorted from one whose patient and persevering industry was not easily baffled, and whose calm and judicial mind was not soon ruffled, is not a little amusing. Even his equanimity was not proof against the irritating effect of being conscientiously bound to understand what was in fact not to be understood. When he took his departure for India, he was still meditating, it will be recollected, a history of philosophy, a favourite project, and one which, if he had had leisure and perseverance to complete it, would doubtless have yielded a noble monument of his genius. 'I am endeavouring,' he says, 'to understand this accursed German philosophy.' - We cannot refrain here from recommending every reader to peruse Sir W. Hamilton's 'Essay,' first inserted in this Journal, 'On the Philosophy of the Unconditioned,' and to ponder especially its concluding sentences:- 'Conscious only of, conscious only in and through, limitation, we think to comprehend the infinite; and dream even of establishing the science, the nescience of man, on an identity with the omniscience of God. It is this powerful tendency of the most vigorous minds to transcend the sphere of our faculties, which makes a "learned ignorance" the most difficult acquirement, perhaps, indeed, the consummation of knowledge. In the words of a forgotten, but acute philosopher: "Magna, immo maxima pars sapientiæ est - quædam æquo animo nescire velle."'
du XVIIIe siècle,'- not the least interesting or valuable of M. Cousin's voluminous productions. Il nous reste à recueillir de tous nos écrits les éléments épars d'une Théodicée nouvelle, particulièrement fondée sur une Psychologie exacte fécondée par une induction légitime avec le double dessein de défendre la grande foi du genre humain contre la détestable philosophie que l'Allemagne, en ces derniers temps, a renvoyée à la France,' &c. &c. (P. viii.)
Many a treatise of modern philosophy might, we think, be entitled 'Essays on the art of saying nothing in such a way that it cannot be known that nothing has been said.'
It must be granted, of course, that the very principle now inculcated requires, like any other, to be applied wisely, lest it should engender timidity where we may hope to succeed; but excess of caution is certainly an error on the right side.
It may be urged, perhaps, that Locke sometimes seems to depart from this wise caution, especially in his most gratuitous speculation as to whether it would not be possible for Omnipotence to endow 'matter' with 'thought.' We say gratuitous, for he himself did not believe that our minds are material, rather he imagined he had proof amounting to 'moral certainty' the other way; and assuredly he had no reason to infer that any other minds are, in some incomprehensible way, any such grafts upon matter. Still the speculation, though in our view not merely presumptuous but irrational, is, in reality, a proof of the very characteristic we have here attributed to Locke, since he declares that he refrained from denying that matter might be susceptible of thought, only because he did not pretend to limit the power of God, who, he said, had given to matter properties to all appearance as inconsistent with its nature as thought itself; and he instances gravitation.' But we shall have a word or two to say on this topic by and by.
Locke's love of truth, though of course essentially a moral excellence, gives an indescribable charm to all the movements of his intellect; it animates, vivifies, transfigures the most tedious processes of logic. The evident desire and longing of his soul is to arrive at truth, and that only; he spares no toil, no patience,