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memorials around her. She pointed out the stone table on which Arnauld wrote, and the closet in which Hamon compounded his medicines for the poor. What was then a dismantled hovel, had been once the study of Pascal; and in the yard was a well which bore his name, because he had invented the machinery and superintended its construction. From some moss-covered trees, planted by the learned D’Andilly, they ate a little of the fruit so celebrated for its size and flavour, that, when it was sent a present to Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin, they used to call it “Fruit-beni.”
What troops of thoughts crowd the mind while perusing these volumes! What consecration of soul was exhibited in that corrupt Church, when the Scriptures were made the rule of faith and practice! How is the soul enfranchised by their light! How precisely the same was the eminent piety of that distant age with that of our own day, resting as they do upon the same basis! The exhortations of Angélique St. Jean to the perfect and imperfect religieux, seems certainly to accord with the theology of our own Church; and the deep devotion of the Port Royalists, under the encumbrances and disadvantages of Roman Catholic ceremonies, may surely shame our fainter and less active faith. Why was Port Royal, which so long stood
“A solitary spark,
When all around with midnight gloom was dark,” at length blotted and extinguished from the earth, and France deprived of her much-needed light? Her glory might have departed from her, and she, like her sister institutions, have stood with the form of godliness yet destitute of its power-Port Royal, but living Port Royal no more; “her strength, her power, her beauty fled;" no more guided by the unadulterated word, but a slave to vain traditions. Better, far better, to lie as she does, in splintered fragments, a holy shrine, a blessed memory, an immortal heritage, to the believing soul
“A place where leaf and flower
ART. III.-VESTIGES OF CIVILIZATION.
Vestiges of Civilization; or, the Ætiology of History, Religious, Æsthetical, Po
litical, and Philosophical. New-York: H. Baillière. 1851.
In accordance with a promise given in a former number of this Review,* we propose to return to the examination of the remarkable work named at the head of this article, and to devote to the estimation of its merits and its defects, its logic and its philosophy, a larger space and more minute attention than were at that time compatible with the occasion. At the outset of our remarks we deem it proper to state, that a fuller and more leisurely examination of the book affords no reason for materially modifying the commendation already bestowed upon its ability, except so far as there may be an apparent deduction of praise in the translation of the vagueness of general and rapid criticism into the precision and more nicely-graduated language of particular appreciation. We are not disposed to be chary of our admiration where the evidences of real talent and sincerity of purpose are clear and distinct, even if we do deem them to have been unhappily exercised in a wrong channel. The cause of truth is not served by depreciating her conscious or unconscious adversaries. As far as we ourselves are concerned, we have neither dread nor abhorrence for speculative error merely as such; we entertain an unwavering faith in the maxim, magna est veritas et prævalebit. The errors of men of original genius and of native strength of intellect are the forlorn hope of mental progress. They achieve more for the ultimate advancement of humanity, than all the stereotyped platitudes of those who do but repeat, from mouth to mouth, and from generation to generation, the undoubted and unchallenged truisms of universal acceptation.† Before the safe road, which is to lead our steps
January, 1852, Art. viii, p. 142. † It is so much the fashion to censure Aristotle for his neglect of his precursors-a fashion set by Bacon-that it affords us pleasure to exonerate him from the charge, at the same time that we confirm our own position by citing from his Metaphysics the following memorable passage :
* ου μόνον δε χάριν έχειν δίκαιον τούτοις ών άν τις κοινώσαιτο ταίς δόξαις, αλλά και τους επιπολαιοτέρως απoφηναμένους και γάρ ούτοι συνεβάλοντό τι. Την γαρ é štv Toponcinoav huôv. Metaph. i. Min., p. 993, b. 11. It would be hypercritical to deny the authenticity of this book. The idea is developed and prettily expressed by Alexander Aphrodisiensis. Schol. ad loc. p. 591: 1 yàp TūV kataβεβλημένων δοξών ευπορία ευρετικωτέρους ημάς της αληθείας παρασκευάσει.”
onward, is found, it must be sought: if sought, it can be discovered only by numerous tentatives, more or less successful; and the aberrations which precede the final determination of the true path are no less essential services to humanity than the prosecution of the true route which may be at length detected. The bold deviators from the beaten track of habitual speculation, are thus the real pioneers of all intellectual advancement: they encounter all the perils of the first assault, without sharing in the glory of the victory; they clear away the dense and thorny thickets of ancient and firmly-rooted delusion; they make the first breaches in the strong walls of established and fortified credulity; and, though they may themselves fail by their own imprudence, they leave a safe and comparatively easy task to the vast brigades of second-rate intellects which will follow whither they have pointed the way.
We freely repeat, then, our former assertion, that in the book before us there is much to admire, though we have also discovered much to condemn. We see brilliant glimpses of half-revealed truths breaking through the mists of fancy, and lighting up the clouds of error. We are assured that the author's eye seeks the polar-star of truth, although his footsteps may be betrayed into the tangled mazes of terrestrial delusion: and we notice throughout a singular vigour of thought and utterance, great powers of sustained reasoning, and a most enviable perspicuity in the manifestation of isolated conceptions. Thus any censure which we may deem it proper to pass upon the work, does not deny us the privilege of admiring its erratic brilliancy; and the determined opposition which we avow to its errors will not make us forgetful of either its claims upon our regard, or its author's title to our respect.
In the previous article, an analysis of the author's theory was given, and the frame-work of his system exhibited. These it may be necessary to repeat hereafter, in order to exhibit their application and development; but, wherever it can be avoided, we shall abstain from cumbering our pages with long extracts, or a detailed exposition of the views of the author, requesting our readers, in all cases which require further illustration, to refer to the book itself. Moreover, we are convinced that neither the relevancy nor the efficacy of our strictures could be intelligibly appreciated without a previous and adequate acquaintance, on the part of the few who may have the taste for such inquiries, with the original treatise itself.
Before proceeding to our main task, the examination of the new philosophy, we wish to premise a few observations on the style of the work and the tenor of its reasoning.
The first impression produced upon our mind by the perusal of the Vestiges was, that it was pervaded by great simplicity of thought, disguised under a quaint and foreign expression. But it was difficult to reconcile the actual existence of this simplicity with the necessity for close and constant attention which every sentence required, and with the haze of bewilderment which clouded the mind after any continued study of its pages. The coexistence of such discordant phenomena suggested a doubt as to the real character of the reasoning and expression; and the doubt tempted us to analyze its cause. We were aware that there might be simplicity of thought in what appeared to be the most intricate confusion; and that hopeless obscurity sometimes clothed itself with the semblance of transparent perspicuity and strict method. This author's systematic procedure, with his regular distribution and constant repetition of the triadic processes of derivation, belong evidently in his own estimation to the former category; but we have been strongly tempted to assign it to the latter, and to suppose that its simplicity was rather apparent than real. “The endless cycles within cycles,
,"* to use his own phrase, seem to form a geometrical mosaic, in which the outlines of the separate figures are sufficiently distinct, though their involutions and convolutions, and their interminable intertexture, knot them up into a labyrinth such as the eye cannot follow, and the reason can scarcely disentangle. The system might, indeed, have been suggested either by Ampère or Wronski, though its affinities to the latter are the more numerous and striking. The former is clear and methodical, though fanciful and tedious. The other leads us blindly on through a wilderness of mazes, which are fancied to be permeable, because the paths are carefully divided off on either hand by the clipped Dutch hedges of mathematical formulism. There is no method so unmethodical as a regularity produced by arbitrary fancies, no perspicuity so obscure as that which springs from the repetition of the same thing under divergent aspects, no simplicity so perplexing as that which rests upon a system whose symmetry is secured only by chimerical analogies; and yet we much fear that such is the character of both the simplicity and perspicuity of the Vestiges. The plan may be simple; it is but a triad of novenas continually recurring: and the novenas themselves are only a quadrature of the primitive triad of thought: but novenas and triads are so intertwined, so grafted and inoculated on each other, and varied by such a bewildering process of combinations and permutations, that the reader would gladly exchange a part of this simple regularity for a more satisfactory
• Vestiges, $ 71, p. 229.
obscurity. If we could persuade the author to try a stronger dose of his own physic, we would invite him to attempt the perusal of M. Hoëné Wronski's Messianisme. In that work he would dis. cover all the characteristics of his own in greater excess :* he might even find the indications of his own theory, and would certainly recognise a more complicated application of his own mathematical machinery; but we think he would acknowledge that even the uniformity of the separate members of a vast system, when the reason for the uniformity is uncertain or far-fetched, leaves behind it a dense cloud of unsatisfied mystery over the whole subject.
Our floating suspicion that the simplicity of the author's reasoning is apparent rather than real, is very materially strengthened by the characteristics of his style. In this there is the same singular union of perspicuity of parts and indistinctness of combination. Throughout there is a most licentious employment of trope and metaphor, which are so luxuriantly interwoven with the whole fabric of the expression, and so intricately entangled, that, however graphic and perspicuous the separate images and illustrations may be, if studied apart, they produce a dizzy perplexity by their general effect. The author is sufficiently precise in each isolated statement; but the aggregate forms a chaos of discordant figures, and produces a labyrinth through which it is almost impossible to travel with any assurance of security or comprehension. Like the brilliant, but garish combinations of the kaleidoscope, in which symmetry of form and an apparent unity of idea are linked with the utmost confusion of the constituent parts, and the sharp angularity and precision of the outline encompass the most puzzling disorder of the elements of the pattern, while the little fragments of glass are by themselves distinct, and of clear and unmistakable hues, so the style of the Vestiges, by a peculiar literary jugglery, jumbles up the perspicuous atoms of its expression into a whole, which attains all the formal conditions of symmetry and regularity, of simplicity and precision, and yet results in an intellectual maze, producing
• The similarity of the Vestiges to the Messianisme is so striking, that it is strange it should be only accidental.
† It is a truth often recalled to the mind by the perusal of the Vestiges, that, “ les figures mêmes de rhétorique passent en sophismes lorsqu'elles nous abusent.” Leibnitz, Nouv. Ep. sur l'Entendement Humain, liv. ii, c. ix. There is an expression in the Avant-Propos to this work, which, by a slight transposition of the epithets, exactly describes the character of the style of the Vestiges. 00 " ces images 0 claires dans l'assemblage, mais confuses dans les parties." 0° If in the spirit of a German list of errata, we say for claires read confuses, and for confuses read claires, we have the portraiture of the literary execution of the work under review.