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sermon is one whose meaning they find it impossible to fathom. But apart from any obscurity in the style of a metaphysical writer, there is something in the essential nature of the subjects which he has to treat, that will always make them seem misty, vague, and unreal to the minds of most men. Nor would this difficulty be removed, even if the soundest sense and the strongest truth had always filled those philosophic pages which we know too well have been more frequently deformed by every kind of trifling, absurdity, and falsehood. Except as a mental discipline, we cannot conceive anything more thoroughly unprofitable than the attempt to become acquainted with the systems which those men to whom the name of philosopher has been accorded, have taught. A history of philosophic opinion is a his– tory of the vilest rubbish, the most childish nonsense, that ever proceeded from the mind of man. The common sense of mankind has consigned the greater part of it to contempt or oblivion. Whoever reads Mr. Lewes's careful account of much of the Greek philosophy, will probably hold, with Sydney Smith, that in those days common sense was not yet invented. But although it were otherwise, a science which treats of things which the eye cannot see nor the fingers grasp, must ever seem to the common mind to be engaged with things which have but a ghostly and unsubstantial existence. Even the strongest religious faith has to bewail that it falls so very far short of sight. Reality, in the impression of most men, is truly a quality of matter. Metaphysics, in its finest development, results to actual sense in the appearance of a thoughtful and careworn man, who is, physically, probably far below the average of his fellows; or in a book, full indeed of sharp and profound processes and results of thought, and setting forth much that is elevating and noble. But to sight that is all. It ends there. To the sense of any man the result is small; nor does it probably appear great to the appreciation of more than one man in a hundred thousand. But in the case of physical science we have all the acute thought, the bold generalisation, the happy inference: and then the locomotive steam-engine or the Menai-bridge as the visible and tangible result. And the locomotive steam-engine or the Menai-bridge is what every man can touch and see. What wonder, then, if, in a practical age, men should say, ‘Give us the facts and realities of science, not the dreams of metaphysics : That is the true philosophy which carries us sixty miles in the hour—which places on our breakfast table the letter written, since the sun went down, five hundred miles off—which provides warm and cheerful houses to live in—and which, as Bacon would have said, commodis humanis inservit.” We have before us three recent works upon the entire field of metaphysics, each with a strongly-marked individuality of its own. Mr. Lewes's book, although only a new edition of a former publication, is so much altered and extended as to be virtually a new work. Although it bears the title of a Biographical History of Philosophy, it combines, in tolerably equal amount, biography, exposition, and criticism. We have the lives, not by any means of all eminent philosophers, but of a representative man of each school. Then we have a view of the peculiar tenets of each school, given for the most part with scrupulous fairness, and not stated at second-hand, but derived by Mr. Lewes himself from the writings of the most eminent authors of each. But Mr. Lewes has not set himself to exhibit a full system of the opinions taught by each philosopher or each school. Adopting heartily the view expressed in the lines of Tennyson, which he has taken as a motto:—

For I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs,

And the thoughts of men are widened by the process of the suns,—

he has rather sought to show how thought and opinion were developed from age to age, each new thinker taking a further step, though not always a step in advance. He has confined himself mainly to that in each philosopher which was his peculiar contribution to the great sum of human thought and conclusion, and tried to show that philosophy ran a regular course, each new view being a development of, or a consequence from, or a reaction from, that which went before. A distinctive characteristic of Mr. Lewes's work is, that it is written to prove that philosophy, properly so called, is impossible. It is a curious thing to find a history of metaphysics laboriously produced by an author who avows his belief in the utter futility of metaphysics, and who denies even the superior grandeur of the speculations through which that misty science leads. Most

men, whether speaking or writing, are wont to begin a discussion of any subject by maintaining its vast importance and utility: Mr. Lewes writes his book to show that his subject is of no importance or utility at all. Any interest which philosophy may still retain, he holds to be purely historical. It is still interesting for us, standing amid the certainties of science, to look back upon the past wanderings and struggles of the human mind and the human race. But now we have got out of the wood; we have climbed the hill. Philosophy has abdicated in favour of physical science; the only philosophy which survives is Positivism ; which merely notes phenomena, and believes nothing but what it sees. The steps of the course in which Mr. Lewes holds that human reason has advanced, retrograded, and deviated, till it ended in this, we shall hereafter consider; and of the grounds on which his ultimate principle rests we have something to say. Meanwhile we quote Mr. Lewes's own words:—

The purport of this history is to show how and why the interest in philosophy has become purely historical. In this purport lies the principal novelty of the work. There is no

other history of philosophy written by one disbelieving in the

possibility of metaphysical certitude.

Mr. Lewes holds that there is no certainty in metaphysics; that philosophy’s day is over; that it served a great end in raising mankind from ignorance and apathy, and awakening the thirst for knowledge; and that now it is needed no more. We have got beyond it. It belongs to the discipline of an earlier period in the progress of the race. It is now the day of physics. If our history (says Mr. Lewes) has any value, it is in the emphatic sanction which it gives to the growing neglect of philosophy, the growing preference for science. Such is the great principle which Mr. Lewes maintains in his book; and he maintains it with great ingenuity and force ; and brings to its support very extensive stores of information. If his book be a heavy one, the fault is not the author’s, but the subject's. Lively illustration, and picturesque narrative and description, have done their utmost to enliven the work. And there is something quite refreshing in the clearness of Mr. Lewes's conceptions and the transparency of his style. One may differ from the opinion which he expresses; but one is never in difficulty to know what he means. We cannot pretend to be able to judge throughout ; but in so far as we can judge, the treatment of the subject is laboriously conscientious. There is a floating tradition of stock impressions of the peculiar tenets of most eminent philosophers; and these are in many cases very inaccurate and inexact. But Mr. Lewes has not - been content merely to repeat the old story as to what Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibnitz, or Spinoza thought. He has studied the works of the great metaphysicians for himself; and where his statements of their doctrines are not thus made expressly at first hand, he has not been content to receive the traditional impression without at least verifying it by reference to the original. Anyone who has ever been conversant with

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