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We do not believe that Thucydides himself has | Proposition after proposition enters into the anywhere compressed so much thought into so small a space.
mind, is received not as an invader, but as a welcome friend, and though previously unknown, becomes at once domesticated. But what we most admire is the vast capacity of that intellect which, without effort, takes in at once all the domains of science-all the past, the present, and the fatur all the errors of two thousand years, all the encouraging signs of the passing times, all the bright hopes of the coming age. Cowley, who was among the most ardent, and not among the least discerning followers of the new philosophy, has, in one
In the additions which Bacon afterwards made to the "Essays," there is nothing supe rior in truth or weight to what we have quoted. But his style was constantly becoming richer and softer. The following passage, first pub lished in 1625, will show the extent of the change: "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction and the clearer evidences of God's favour. Yet, even in the Old Testament, if you listen of his finest poems, compared Bacon to Moses to David's harp you shall hear as many hearse-standing on Mount Pisgah. It is to Bacon, we like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy think, as he appears in the first book of the Ghost hath laboured more in describing the Novum Organum, that the comparison applies afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. with peculiar felicity. There we see the great Prosperity is not without many fears and dis- Lawgiver looking round from his lonely eleva tastes; and adversity is not without comforts tion on an infinite expanse; behind him a and hopes. We see in needleworks and em- wilderness of dreary sands and bitter waters broideries it is more pleasing to have a lively in which successive generations have so work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to journed, always moving, yet never advancing, have a dark and melancholy work upon a reaping no harvest and building no abiding lightsome ground. Judge therefore of the city; before him a goodly land, a land of propleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the mise, a land flowing with milk and honey. eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, While the multitude below saw only the flat most fragrant when they are incensed or sterile desert in which they had so long wancrushed; for prosperity doth best discover dered, bounded on every side by a near horizon, vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue." or diversified only by some deceitful mirage, he was gazing from a far higher stand, on a far lovelier country-following with his eye the long course of fertilizing rivers, through ample pastures, and under the bridges of great capita!s--measuring the distances of marts and havens, and portioning out all those wealthy regions from Dan to Beersheba.
It is painful to turn back from contemplating Bacer philosophy to contemplate his life. Yet without so turning back it is impossible fairly to estimate his powers. He left the University at an earlier age than that at which most people repair thither. While yet a boy
It is by the "Essays" that Bacon is best known to the multitude. The Novum Organum and the De Augmentis are much talked of, but little read. They have produced indeed a vast effect on the opinions of mankind; but they have produced it through the operations of intermediate agents. They have moved the intellects which have moved the world. It is in the "Essays" alone that the mind of Bacon is brought into immediate contact with the minds of ordinary readers. There, he opens an exoteric school, and he talks to plain men in language which everybody understands, about things in which everybody is interested. He has thus enabled those who must otherwise he was plunged into the midst of diplomatic have taken his merits on trust to judge for business. Thence he passed to the study of themselves; and the great body of readers a vast technical system of law, and worked have, during several generations, acknow- his way up through a succession of laborious ledged that the man who has treated with such offices to the highest post in his profession. .consummate ability questions with which they In the mean time he took an active part in are familiar, may well be supposed to deserve every Parliament; he was an adviser of the all the praise bestowed on him by those who crown; he paid court with the greatest assihave sat in his inner school. duity and address to all whose favour was likely to be of use to him; he lived much in society; he noted the slightest peculiarities of character and the slightest changes of fashion. Scarcely any man has led a more stirring life than that which Bacon led from sixteen to sixty. Scarcely any man has been better entitled to be called a thorough man of the world. The founding of a new philosophy, the imparting of a new direction to the minds of specu lators-this was the amusement of his leisure, the work of hours occasionally stolen from the Woolsack and the Council Board. This consideration, while it increases the admiration with which we regard his intellect, increases also our regret that such an intellect should so often have been unworthily employed. He well knew the better course, and had, at one
Without any disparagement to the admirable treatise De Augmentis, we must say that, in our judgment, Bacon's greatest performance is the first book of the Novum Organum. All the pe.coliarities of his extraordinary mind are found there in the highest perfection. Many of the aphorisms, but particularly those in which he gives examples of the influence of the idola, show a nicety of observation that has never (been surpassed. Every part of the book blazes with wit, but with wit which is employed only to illustrate and decorate truth. No book ever made so great a revolution in the mode of thinking, overthrew so many prejudices, introduced so many new opinions. Yet, no book was ever written in a less contentious spirit. taly conquers with chalk and not with steel.
time, resolved to pursue it. "I confess," said | not then have to blush for the disingenuous. he in a letter written when he was still young, ness of the most devoted worshipper of specu that I have as vast contemplative ends as I lative truth, for the servility of the boldest have moderate civil ends." Had his civil ends champion of intellectual freedom. We should continued to be moderate, he would have been, not then have seen the same man at one time not only the Moses, but the Joshua of philo- far in the van, and at another time far in the sophy. He would have fulfilled a large part rear of his generation. We should not then be of his own magnificent predictions. He would forced to own, that he who first treated legishave led his followers, not only to the verge, lation as a science was among the last Engbut into the heart of the promised land. He lishmen who used the rack; that he who first would not merely have pointed out, but would summoned philosophers to the great work of have divided the spoil. Above all, he would interpreting nature was among the last Enghave left not only a great, but a spotless name. lishmen who sold justice. And we should Mankind would then have been able to esteem conclude our survey of a life placidly, honourtheir illustrious benefactor. We should not ably, beneficently passed, "in industrious obthen be compelled to regard his character with servations, grounded conclusions, and profita mingled contempt and admiration, with min- ble inventions and discoveries," with feelings gled aversion and gratitude. We should not very different from those with which we now then regret that there should be so many proofs turn away from the checkered spectacle of su of the narrowness and selfishness of a heart, much glory and so much shame. the benevolence of which was yet large enough to take in all races and all ages. We should |
From a Letter of Bacon to Lord Burleigh.
BKD OF VOL. 8
MACKINTOSH'S HISTORY OF THE REVOLUTION IN ENGLAND, IN 1688.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1835.]
at mess in Hampshire, or on the Treasurybench and at Brookes's during the storms which overthrew Lord North and Lord Shelburne had been passed in the Bodleian Library, he might have avoided some inaccuracies; he might have enriched his notes with a greater number of references; but he never would have pro
rable countenance are before us. All the little peculiar cadences of that voice, from which scholars and statesmen loved to receive the lessons of a serene and benevolent wisdom, are in our ears. We will attempt to preserve strict impartiality. But we are not ashamed to own, that we approach this relic of a virtuous and most accomplished man with feelings of respect and gratitude which may possibly perver our judgment.
Ir is with unfeigned diffidence that we venmure to give our opinion of the last work of Sir James Mackintosh. We have in vain tried to perform what ought to be to a critic an easy and habitual act. We have in vain tried to separate the book from the writer, and to judge of it as if it bore some unknown name. But it is to no purpose. All the lines of that vene-duced so lively a picture of the court, the camp, and the senate-house. In this respect Mr. Fox and Sir James Mackintosh had great advantages over almost every English historian who has written since the time of Burnet. Lord Lyttleton had indeed the same advantages; but he was incapable of using them. Pedantry was so deeply fixed in his nature, that the hustings, the treasury, the exchequer, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, left him the same dreaming schoolboy that they found him.
It is hardly possible to avoid instituting a comparison between this work and another When we compare the two interesting works celebrated Fragment. Our readers will easily of which we have been speaking, we have litguess that we allude to Mr. Fox's History of tle difficulty in awarding the superiority to that James II. The two books are written on the of Sir James Mackintosh. Indeed, the supesame subject. Both were posthumously pub-riority of Mr. Fox to Sir James as an orator is lishe. Neither had received the last correc-hardly more clear than the superiority of Sir tions The authors belonged to the same poli- James to Mr. Fox as an historian. Mr. Fox tical party, and held the same opinions con- with a pen in his hand, and Sir James on his cerning the merits and defects of the English legs in the House of Commons, were, we think, constitution, and concerning most of the pro- each out of his proper element. They were minent characters and events in English his- men, it is true, of far too much judgment and tory. They had thought much on the princi- ability to fail scandalously in any undertaking ples of government; but they were not mere to which they brought the whole power of their speculators. They had ransacked the archives minds. The History of James II. will always of rival kingdoms, and pored on folios which keep its place in our libraries as a valuable had movidered for ages in deserted libraries; book; and Sir James Mackintosh succeeded in but they were not mere antiquaries. They winning and maintaining a high place among had one eminent qualification for writing his-the parliamentary speakers of his time. Yet tory-they had spoken history, acted history, we could never read a page of Mr. Fox's writlived history. The turns of political fortune, ing, we could never listen for a quarter of an the ebb and flow of popular feeling, the hidden hour to the speaking of Sir James, without mechanism by which parties are moved, all feeling that there was a constant effort, a tug these things were the subjects of their con- up hill. Nature, or habit which had become stant thought and of their most familiar con- nature, asserted its rights. Mr. Fox wrote de versation. Gibbon has remarked, that his bates. Sir James Mackintosh spoke essays. history is much the better for his having been an officer in the militia and a member of the House of Commons. The remark is most just. We have not the smallest doubt that his campaign, though he never saw an enemy, and his Farliamentary attendance, though he never made a speech, were of far more use to him than years of retirement and study would have been. If the time that he spent on parade and
As far as mere diction was concerned, indeed, Mr. Fox did his best to avoid those faults which the habit of public speaking is likely to generate. He was so nervously apprehensive of sliding into some colloquial incorrectness, of debasing his style by a mixture of parlia mentary slang, that he ran into the opposite error, and purified his vocabulary with a scru pulosity unknown to any purist. "Ciceronem Allobroga dixit." He would not allow Addison, Bolingbroke, or Middleton, to be a sufficien authority for an expression. He declared that he would use no word which was not to be found in Dryden. In any other person we should To which is prefixed a Notice of the Life, Writ-have called this solicitude mere 10ppery; and, Editor. ings, and Speeches of Sir James Mackintosh. 4to. LonJon. 1834. VOL III-37
• History of the Revolution in England, in 1688. Comprising a view of the Reign of James the Second, from his Accession, to the Enterprise of the Prince of Orange; by the late Right Honourable Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH; and completed to the Settlement of the Crown, by the
in spite of all our admiration for Mr. Fox, wo 2 B
cannot but think that his extreme attention to the petty niceties of language was hardly worthy of so manly and so capacious an understanding. There were purists of this kind at Rome; and their fastidiousness was censured by Horace with that perfect good sense and good taste which characterize all his writings. There were purists of this kind at the time of the revival of letters: and the two greatest scholars of that time raised their voices, the one from within, the other from With Sir James Mackintosh the case was without the Alps, against a scrupulosity so un- reversed. His proper place was his library, a reasonable. "Carent," said Politian, "quæ circle of men of letters, or a chair of moral scribunt isti viribus et vita, carent actu, carent and political philosophy. He distinguished affectu, carent indole. Nisi liber ille himself highly in Parliament. But neverthe præsto sit ex quo quid excerpant, colligere less Parliament was not exactly the sphere tria verba non possunt. Horum sem- for him. The effect of his most successful per igitur oratio tremula, vacillans, infirma. speeches was small, when compared with the Quæso ne ista superstitione te alliges. quantity of ability and learning which was Ut bene currere non potest qui pe- expended on them. We could easily name dum ponere studet in alienis tantum vestigiis, men who, not possessing a tenth part of his ita nec bene scribere qui tanquam de præ- intellectual powers, hardly ever address the scripto non audet egredi."-" Posthac," ex- House of Commons without producing a claims Erasmus, "non licebit episcopos appel- greater impression than was produced by his lare patres reverendos, nec in calce literarum most splendid and elaborate orations. His luscribere annum a Christo nato, quod id nus-minous and philosophical disquisition on the quam faciat Cicero. Quid autem ineptius Reform Bill was spoken to empty benches. quam, toto seculo novato, religione, imperiis, Those, indeed, who had the wit to keep their magistratibus, locorum vocabulis, ædificiis, seats, picked up hints which, skilfully used, cultu, moribus, non aliter audere loqui quam made the fortune of more than one speech. locutus est Cicero ? Si revivisceret, ipse Ci- But "it was caviare to the general." And even cero, rideret hoc Ciceronianorum genus." those who listened to Sir James with pleasure While Mr. Fox winnowed and sifted his and admiration, could not but acknowledge that phraseology with a care, which seems hardly he rather lectured than debated. An artist consistent with the simplicity and elevation of who should waste on a panorama, on a scene, his mind, and of which the effect really was to or on a transparency, the exquisite finishing debase and enfeeble his style, he was little on which we admire in some of the small Dutcb his guard against those more serious improprie-interiors, would not squander his powers more ties of manner into which a great orator, who than this eminent man too often did. His auundertakes to write history, is in danger of dience resembled the boy in the "Heart of Midfalling. There is about the whole book a ve- Lothian," who pushes away the lady's guineas hement, contentious, replying manner. Almost with contempt, and insists on having the white every argument is put in the form of an inter- money. They preferred the silver with which rogation, an ejaculation, or a sarcasm. The they were familiar, and which they were conwriter seems to be addressing himself to some stantly passing about from hand to hand, to imaginary audience; to be tearing in pieces a the gold which they had never before seen, and defence of the Stuarts which has just been with the value of which they were unacquainted. pronounced by an imaginary Tory. Take, for It is much to be regretted, we think, that Sir example, his answer to Hume's remarks on James Mackintosh did not wholly devote his the execution of Sydney; and substitute the later years to philosophy and literature. His honourable gentleman," or "the noble lord," for talents were not those which enable a speaker the name of Hume. The whole passage sounds to produce with rapidity a series of striking like a powerful reply, thundering at three in but transitory impressions, to excite the minds the morning from the Opposition Bench. of five hundred gentlemen at midnight, without While we read it, we can almost fancy that we saying any thing that any one of them will be see and hear the great English debater, such able to remember in the morning. His argu as he has been described to us by the few who ments were of a very different texture from can still remember the Westminster Scrutiny, those which are produced in Parliament at a and the Oczakow Negotiations, in the full moment's notice,-which puzzle a plain man paroxysm of inspiration, foaming, screaming, who, if he had them before him in writing, choked by the rushing multitude of his words. would soon detect their fallacy, and which the It is true that the passage to which we have great debater who employed them forgets withreferred, and several other passages which we in half an hour, and never thinks of again. could point out, are admirable, when considered Whatever was valuable in the compositions merely as exhibitions of mental power. We of Sir James Mackintosh, was the ripe fruit at once recognise that consummate master of of study and of meditation. It was the same the whole art of intellectual gladiatorship, with his conversation. In his most familiar whose Speeches, imperfectly as they have been talk there was no wildness, no inconsistency, transmitted to us, should be studied day and no amusing nonsense, no exaggeration for the Bight by every man who wishes to learn the sake of momentary effect. His mind was a science of legical defence. We find in several vast magazine, admirably arranged; every
parts of the History of James II. fine speci mens of that which we conceive to have been the great characteristic of Demosthenes among the Greeks, and of Fox among the orators of England,-reason penetrated, and if we may venture on the expression, made red-hot by passion. But this is not the kind of excellence proper to history; and it is hardly too much to say, that whatever is strikingly good in Mr. Fox's Fragment is out of place.
thing was there, and every thing was in its place. His judgments on men, on sects, on books, had been often and carefully tested and weighed, and had then been committed, each to its proper receptacle, in the most capacious and accurately constructed memory that any human being ever possessed. It would have been strange indeed, if you had asked for any thing that was not to be found in that immense storehouse. The article which you required was not only there. It was ready. It was in its own proper compartment. In a moment it was brought down, unpacked, and displayed. If those who enjoyed the privilege-for privilege indeed it was--of listening to Sir James Mackintosh, had been disposed to find some fault in his conversation, they might perhaps have observed that he yielded too little to the impulse of the moment. He seemed to be recollecting, not creating. He never appeared to catch a sudden glimpse of a subject in a new light. You never saw his opinions in the making, still rude, still inconsistent, and re-rusals. quiring to be fashioned by thought and discus- We are not sure that the book is not in some sion. They came forth, like the pillars of that degree open to the charge which the idle cititemple in which no sound of axes or hammers zen in the Spectator brought against his pudwas heard, finished, rounded, and exactly suit-ding. "Mem. too many plums, and no suet." ed to their places. What Mr. Charles Lamb There is perhaps too much disquisition and has said with much humour and some truth, too little narrative; and, indeed, this is the of the conversation of Scotchmen in general, fault into which, judging from the habits of was certainly true of this eminent Scotchman. Sir James's mind, we should have thought him He did not find, but bring. You could not cry most likely to fall. What we assuredly did halves to any thing that turned up while you not anticipate was, that the narrative would be were in his company. better executed than the disquisitions. We The intellectual and moral qualities which expected to find, and we have found, many just are most important in an historian, he possessed delineations of character, and many digresin a very high degree. He was singularly sions full of interest, such as the account mild, calm, and impartial, in his judgments of of the order of Jesuits, and of the state of men and of parties. Almost all the distin- prison discipline in England a hundred and guished writers who have treated of English fifty years ago. We expected to find, and we history are advocates. Mr. Hallam and Sir have found, many reflections breathing the James Mackintosh are alone entitled to be spirit of a calm and benignant philosophy. called judges. But the extreme austerity of But we did not, we own, expect to find that Mr. Hallam takes away something from the Sir James could tell a story as well as Voltaire pleasure of reading his learned, eloquent, and or Hume. Yet such is the fact; and if any judicious writings. He is a judge, but a hang-person doubts it, we would advise him to read ing judge, the Page or Buller of the high court the account of the events which followed the of literary justice. His black cap is in con-issuing of King James's famous declaration,-stant requisition. In the long calendar of the meeting of the clergy, the violent scene at these whom he has tried, there is hardly one the Privy Council, the cominitment, trial, and who has not, in spite of evidence to charac-acquittal of the bishops. The most superficial ter and recommendations to mercy, been sen- | reader must be charmed, we think, by the livetenced and left for execution. Sir James, liness of the narrative. But no person who is perhaps, erred a little on the other side. He not acquainted with that vast mass of intractaliked a maiden assize, and came away with ble materials, of which the valuable and inte white gloves, after sitting in judgment on resting part has been extracted and condensed, batches of the most notorious offenders. He can fully appreciate the skill of the writer. had a quick eye for the redeeming parts of a Here, and indeed throughout the book, we find character, and a large toleration for the infir- many harsh and careless expressions, which mities of men exposed to strong temptations. the author would probably have removed if he But this lenity did not arise from ignorance or had lived to complete his work. But, in spite neglect of moral distinctions. Though he al- of these blemishes, we must say that we should lowed, perhaps, too much weight to every ex- find it difficult to point out, in any modern nistenuating circumstance that could be urged in torian, any passage of equal length, and at the favour of the transgressor, he never disputed same time of equal merit. We find in it the the authority of the law, or showed his inge- diligence, the accuracy, and the judgment of Duity by refining away its enactments. On Hallam, united to the vivacity and the colour every occasion he showed himself firm where ing of Southev. A history of England, written principles were in question, but full of charity througnout in this manner, would be the mos tewards individuals. |fascinating book in the language. It would be
We have no hesitation in pronouncing this Fragment decidedly the best history now extant of the reign of James the Second. It contains much new and curious information, of which excellent use has been made. The accuracy of the narrative is deserving of high admiration. We have noticed only one mistake of the smallest importance, and that, we believe, is to be laid to the charge of the editor, who has far more serious blunders to answer for. The pension of 60,000 livres, which Lord Sunderland received from France, is said to have been equivalent to 2,500l. sterling. Sir James had perhaps for a moment forgotten,his editor had certainly never heard,-that a great depreciation of the French coin took place after 1688. When Sunderland was in power, the livre was worth about eighteen pence, and his pension consequently amounted to about 4,500l. This is really the only inaccuracy of the slightest moment that we have been able to discover in several attentive pe