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with ability, and discovers juster views of the object of moral science, than any modern system that had yet appeared; the author resting the strength of his argument, not, as Grotius had done, on an accumulation of authorities, but on the principles of the human frame, and the mutual relations of the human race. The circumstance, however, which chiefly entitles this publication to our notice is, that it seems to have been the earliest on the subject which attracted, in any considerable degree, the attention of English scholars. From this time, the writings of Grotius and Puffendorf began to be generally studied, and soon after made their way into the Universities. In Scotland, the impression produced by them was more peculiarly remarkable. They were every where adopted as the best manuals of ethical and of political instruction that could be put into the hands of students; and gradually contributed to form that memorable school, from whence so many philosophers and Philosophical Historians were afterwards to proceed.
From the writings of Hobbes to those of Locke, the transition is easy and obvious; but, before prosecuting farther the history of philosophy in England, it will be proper to turn our attention to its progress abroad, since the period at which this section commences.* In the first place, however, I shall add a few miscellaneous remarks
Through the whole of this Discourse, I have avoided touching on the discussions which, on various occasions, have arisen with regard to the theory of government, and the comparative advantages or disadvantages of different political forms. Of the scope and spirit of these discussions it would be seldom possible to convey a just idea, without entering into details of a local or temporary nature, inconsistent with my general design. In the present circumstances of the world, besides, the theory of government (although, in one point of view, the most important of all studies) seems to possess a very subordinate interest to inquiries connected with political economy, and with the fundamental principles of legislation. What is it, indeed, that renders one form of government more favorable than another to human happiness, but the superior security it provides for the enactment of wise laws, and for their impartial and vigorous execution? These considerations will sufficiently ac count for my passing over in silence, not only the names of Needham, of Sydney, and of Milton, but that of Harrington, whose Oceana is justly regarded as one of the boasts of English literature, and is pronounced by Hume to be the only valuable model of a commonwealth that has yet been offered to the public." (Essays and Treatises, Vol. I. Essay xvi.)
A remark which Hume has elsewhere made on the Oceana, appears to me so striking and so instructive, that I shall give it a place in this note. Harrington," he observés, "thought himself so sure of his general principle, that the balance of power depends on that of property, that he ventured to pronounce it impossible ever to reestablish monarchy in England: but his book was scarcely published when the King was restored; and we see that monarchy has ever since subsisted on
on some important events which occurred in 'this country during the lifetime of Hobbes, and of which his extraordinary longevity prevented me sooner from taking notice.
Among these events, that which is most immediately connected with our present subject, is the establishment of the Royal Society of London in 1662, which was followed a few years afterwards by that of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. The professed object of both institutions was the improvement of Experimental Knowledge, and of the auxiliary science of Mathematics; but their influence on the general progress of human reason has been far greater than could possibly have been foreseen at the moment of their foundation. On the happy effects resulting from them in this respect, La Place has introduced some just reflections in his System of the World, which, as they discover more originality of thought than he commonly displays, when he ventures to step beyond the circumference of his own magic circle, I shall quote, in a literal translation of his words.
"The chief advantage of learned societies, is the philosophical spirit to which they may be expected to give birth, and which they cannot fail to diffuse over all the various pursuits of the nations among whom they are established. The insulated scholar may without dread abandon himself to the spirit of system; he hears the voice of contradiction only from afar. But in a learned society, the collision of systematic opinions soon terminates in their common destruction; while the desire of mutual conviction creates among the members a tacit compact, to admit nothing but the results of observation, or the conclusions of mathematical reasoning. Accordingly, experience has shown, how much these establishments have contributed, since their origin, to the spread of true philosophy. By setting the example of submitting every thing to the examination of a severe logic, they have dis
the same footing as before. So dangerous is it for a politician to venture to foretel the situation of public affairs a few years hence." Ibid. Essay vii.
How much nearer the truth (even in the science of politics) is Bacon's cardinal principle, that knowledge is power!--a principle, which applies to Man not less in his corporate than in his individual capacity; and which may be safely trusted to as the most solid of all foundations for our reasonings concerning the future history of the world.
sipated the prejudices which had too long reigned in the sciences; and which the strongest minds of the preceding centuries had not been able to resist. They have constantly opposed to empiricism a mass of knowledge, against which the errors adopted by the vulgar, with an enthusiasm which, in former times, would have perpetuated their empire, have spent their force in vain. In a word, it has been in their bosoms, that those grand theories have been conceived, which, although far exalted by their generality above the reach of the multitude, are for this very reason entitled to special encouragement, from their innumerable applications to the phenomena of nature, and to the practice of the arts." *
In confirmation of these judicious remarks, it may be farther observed, that nothing could have been more happily imagined, than the establishment of learned corporations for correcting those prejudices which (under the significant title of Idola Specûs,) Bacon has described as incident to the retired student. While these idols of the den maintain their authority, the cultivation of the philosophical spirit is impossible; or rather, it is in a renunciation of this idolatry that the philosophical spirit essentially consists. It was accordingly in this great school of the learned world, that the characters of Bacon, Descartes, Leibnitz, and Locke were formed; the four individuals who have contributed the most to diffuse the philosophical spirit over Europe. The remark applies more peculiarly to Bacon, who first pointed out the inconveniences to be apprehended from a minute and mechanical subdivision of literary labor; and anticipated the advantages to be expected from the institution of learned academies, in enlarging the field of scientific curiosity, and the correspondent grasp of the emancipated mind. For accomplishing this object, what means so effectual as habits of daily intercourse with men whose pursuits are different from our own; and that expanded knowledge, both of man and
The Royal Society of London, though not incorporated by charter till 1662, may be considered as virtually existing, at least as far back as 1638, when some of the most eminent of the original members began first to hold regular meetings at Gresham College, for the purpose of philosophical discussion. Even these meetings were but a continuation of those previously held by the same individuals at the apartments of Dr. Wilkins in Oxford. See Sprat's History of the Royal Society.
of nature, of which such an intercourse must necessarily be productive!
Another event which operated still more forcibly and universally on the intellectual character of our countrymen, was the civil war which began in 1640, and which ultimately terminated in the usurpation of Cromwell. It is observed by Mr. Hume, that "the prevalence of democratical principles, under the Commonwealth, engaged the country gentlemen to bind their sons apprentices to merchants; and that commerce has ever since been more honorable in England, than in any other European kingdom." * "The higher and the lower ranks," a late writer has remarked, "were thus brought closer together, and all of them inspired with an activity and vigor that, in former ages, had no example." +
To this combination of the pursuits of trade with the advantages of a liberal education, may be ascribed the great multitude of ingenious and enlightened speculations on commerce, and on the other branches of national industry, which issued from the press, in the short interval between the Restoration and the Revolution; an interval during which the sudden and immense extension of the trade of England, and the corresponding rise of the commercial interest, must have presented a spectacle peculiarly calculated to awaken the curiosity of inquisitive observers. It is a very remarkable circumstance with respect to these economical researches, which now engage so much of the attention both of statesmen and of philosophers, that they are altogether of modern origin. "There is scarcely," says Mr. Hume, “any ancient writer on politics who has made mention of trade; nor was it ever considered as an affair of state till the seventeenth century." -The work of the celebrated John de Witt, entitled, "The true Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland and West Friesland," is the earliest publication of any note, in which commerce is treated of as an object of national and political con
History of England, chap. Ixii.
† Chalmers's Political Estimate, &c. (London, 1804.) p. 44. Essay on Civil Liberty.
cern, in opposition to the partial interests of corporations and of monopolists.
Of the English publications to which I have just alluded, the greater part consist of anonymous pamphlets, now only to be met with in the collections of the curious. A few bear the names of eminent English merchants. 1 shall have occasion to refer to them more particularly afterwards, when I come to speak of the writings of Smith, Quesnay, and Turgot. At present, I shall only observe, that, in these fugitive and now neglected tracts, are to be found the first rudiments of that science of Political Economy, which is justly considered as the boast of the present age; and which, although the aid of learning and philosophy was necessary to rear it to maturity, may be justly said to have had its cradle in the Royal Exchange of London.
Mr. Locke was one of the first retired theorists (and this singular feature in his history has not been sufficiently attended to by his biographers,) who condescended to treat of trade as an object of liberal study. Notwithstanding the manifold errors into which he fell in the course of his reasonings concerning it, it may be fairly questioned, if he has anywhere else given greater proofs, either of the vigor or of the originality of his genius. But the name of Locke reminds me, that it is now time to interrupt these national details; and to turn our attention to the progress of science on the Continent, since the times of Bodinus and of Campanella.
Progress of Philosophy in France during the Seventeenth Century.
Ar the head of the French writers who contributed, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, to turn the thoughts of their countrymen to subjects connected with the Philosophy of Mind, Montaigne may, I apprehend, be justly placed. Properly speaking, he belongs to a period somewhat earlier; but his tone of thinking and of