« VorigeDoorgaan »
Of these a few are now obsolete, owing to the advancement of the sciences, and others have been pushed out of favour by brisker or more brilliant competitors. But still they have accomplished their purpose. For the instruction of youth, they have necessitated the preparation of manuals at once attractive and thorough, and conveying information in a tone of cheerful affection and benevolent solicitude for their higher interests. Some, however, cannot easily be superseded. We doubt if even Todd's “Student's Guide,” with all its modern adaptation and its welcome minuteness, will consign to oblivion the “ Improvement of the Mind,” so practical in its details and so inspiring in its tone; and although the universities may have now produced systems of logic more suitable to their objects than our author's clear and masterly compend, we know of nothing so likely to interest the non-professional reader in his own mind and its intellectual processes, or to aid him in his inquires after truth.?
In his theological disquisitions, Dr Watts was not so successful as in his contributions to Christian literature. The best of his hymns leave little for the most fastidious to censure, and nothing for the most aspiring to hope; and his sermon on “ The End of Time," is as profoundly awakening as “ The Happiness of separate Spirits” is elevating to our nobler sentiments and reproving to our earthliness. But when he quitted the devotional and the practical for the speculative, he was away from home. Every one wants to climb a mountain, and it is exceedingly difficult to believe beforehand that it needs much strength to achieve the task, or that mists can be very dangerous: it looks so clear from below, and we feel so strong in the valley. And all of us can remember how, in the days of our youth, the first use we made of our Aristotelian alpenstock, was an attempt to ascend some metaphysical Mont Blanc or theological Jungfrau; and although we cannot exactly say that we reached the summit, yet we are sure that we were a great deal higher than the Origin of Evil, or the water-shed betwixt Liberty and Necessity. Even to old age, Dr Watts felt something of this temptation, and very naturally. His forte was explanation. He had an admirable faculty of clearing up confusion, within his own line of things. In every-day ethics, and in the elements of mental science, he could expound, distinguish, simplify, so as few could do better. But
"The merits of Watts' Logic are admirably stated by Tissot of Dijon, in his preface to a French translation. (Paris, 1846). “Il y a aussi plus de méthode et de clarté peut-être dans la Logique de Watts que dans celle d'Arnaul. Le bon sens Anglais, le sens des affaires, celui de la vie pratique, s'y révèle à un très-haut degré; tandis que le sens spéculatif d'un théologien passablement scolastique encore, est plus sensible dans l'Art de penser. Or, Watts a su être complet sans être excessif; il a touché très—convenablement tout ce qui devait l'être, et s'est toujours arrêté au point précis où plus de profondeur aurait pu nuire à la clarté."
The Lesson of his Life.
43 it was unfortunate that he tried to set philosophers right on the subjects of Space, and of Liberty and Necessity, nor less unfortunate that he sought to readjust for theologians the doctrine of the Trinity. It is scarcely presumption even in us to say, that these were matters too high for him. His mind was not naturally designed to master such difficulties ; nor were his habits those of profound, continuous, abstract thinking. He was neither Joseph Butler, nor Jonathan Edwards, nor William de Leibnitz, but the Isaac Watts, whom the most of good men would have rather been; and it is no reproach to his general ability to say that he failed to ascend those dizzy altitudes, although it might have been more to the credit of his prudence
if he had never
tried. If rightly told, a life like that of Isaac Watts would read great lessons; but, for brevity, and notwithstanding the exception we have just taken, the whole might be condensed into “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business.” Dr Watts had his own convictions. He made no secret of his Nonconformity. At a period when many Dissenters entered the Church, and became distinguished dignitaries, he deemed it his duty still to continue outside of the National Establishment. At the same time, he was no agitator. He felt no call to rail at his brethren for their ecclesiastical defection, nor did he write pamphlets against the evils of a hierarchy, real or imagined. But God had given him a “ business.” He had given him, as his vocation, to join together those whom men had put asunder-mental culture and vital piety. And, studying to be quiet, he pursued that calling, very diligently, very successfully. Without concealing the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, without losing the fervour of his personal devotion, he gained for that Gospel the homage of genius and intelligence; and, like the King of Israel, he touched his harp so skilfully, that many who hardly understood the words, were melted by the tune. Without surrendering his right of private judgment, without abjuring his love of natural and artistic beauty, he showed his preference for moral excellence, his intense conviction of “the truth as it is in Jesus.” And now, in his well-arranged and tasteful study, decorated by his own pencil, a lute and a telescope on the same table with his Bible, he seems to stand before us, a treatise on Logic in one hand and a volume of “Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in the other, asserting the harmony of Faith and Reason, and pleading for Religion and Refinement in firm and stable union. And as far as the approval of the Most High can be gathered from events or from its reflection in the conscience of mankind, the Master has said, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Without trimming, without temporizing, he was “quiet;" and without bustle, withut boasting or parade, he did “his own business," the work
that God had given him. And now, no Church repudiates him, Nonconformity cannot monopolise him. His eloge is pronounced by Samuel Johnson and Robert Southey, as well as Josiah Conder ; and whilst his monument looks down on Dissenting graves in Abney Park, his effigy reposes beneath the consecrated roof of Westminster Abbey. And, which is far better, next Lord's day, the Name that is above every name, will be sung in fanes where princes worship and prelates minister, as well as in barns where mechanics pray and ragged scholars say, Amen, in words for which all alike must thank his hallowed genius; and it will only be some curious student of hymnology, who will recollect that Isaac Watts is the Asaph of each choir, the leader of
French Treatment of Criminals.
Art. III.-1. Traité des diverses institutions complémentaires du
Regime Pénitentiare. Par M. BONNEVILLE. Joubert, Paris. 2. Système pénitentiare complet. Ses applications pratiques à
Thomme déchu dans l'intérêt de la securité publique, et de la moralisation des condamnés. Par A. LEPELLETIER DE LA SARTHE. Guillaumin et Cie. Paris.
The great social sore festering beneath our modern civilisation, demands everywhere a more certain and more healthful treatment than has yet been given it. Hitherto, criminal legislation has been in extremes of unnatural severity on the one hand, or of impractical sentimentalism on the other; either it has denied to the criminal the rights of manhood, or it has provided for him as for a species of fallen hero; either it has shut him out from the possibility of moral and social rehabilitation, or it has made his very crimes the means of his worldly advancement. Any one who reads the reports of the inspectors on the various prisons in England, must see what a lamentable want of uniformity exists in our own prison discipline; what a chaotic, experimental, undetermined state the whole question is in, and how we are still undecided between entire seclusion and unchecked association,between a mode of treatment which offers premiums to hypocrisy, and one which necessitates brutalisation. And the French are in as chaotic a state as ourselves in point of system, with even less uniformity in matters of discipline. In France, a prisoner or a convict with money may live the life of a lord in many ways of personal luxury; and one celebrated forçat, Anthelme Collet, was the scandal of the bagne at Rochefort, for the luxurious life which his secret supplies enabled him to lead. Of itself, this uncertainty of discipline is a strong incentive to crime, by the kind of lottery character which it gives to punishment. For a smaller amount of punishment, of which the criminal may be morally sure, will deter him from the commission of an offence sooner than the risk of the severest penalty, with the chance of escape, or amelioration, to counterbalance it. Indeed, one of our greatest living authorities on this question, enumerates as one of the causes of crime, “Temptations caused by the probability either of an entire escape, or of subjection to an inefficient punishment.”
While, then, the detection of crime and the degree of consequent punishment are uncertain, we need not look for any good result from the deterring terrors of the law. They are only terrors in name; in fact, they may become excitants and stimulants, even as the chance of loss may excite the gambler in exact proportion to the hope of gain. And, in like manner, under an uncertain system the criminal has, superadded to other temptations, the fascination of a tremendous game of chance, compared with which the maddest
stake ever thrown on the green baize, sinks into insignificance. The criminal gambles with his life; he stakes on a legal possibility, his manhood, freedom, good name, and very existence,-not only for a few feverish hours over night, but continuously; his excitement never failing and never slackening. Were he certain of his fate-certain of discovery, and certain of the award—all that gambling incentive would be withdrawn; his calculations would resolve themselves simply into a question of gain and loss, where he must strike the balance between his profits and his penalties, and prove to his own satisfaction that what he got outweighed what he paid:that a month's freedom and one night's evil-doing, were worth seven years' imprisonment; and a week's orgies well bought by a year's hard labour and seclusion.
The first step, then, to a practical settlement of this muchvexed question is, for each nation to organise a fixed and certain system, which shall be in general and universal use; to allow of no difference in the arrangements of the various gaols throughout the country, but to have the discipline of each precisely the same, according to its purpose; and to make the classification of offenders and places of punishment as rigid and distinct as possible. The destruction of uncertainty would be the destruction of the first and most powerful encouragement, the establishment of a rigid uniformity of discipline, the foundation of the most certain deterrent, of crime. But to accomplish this with success, it is necessary to examine minutely into the workings of the present various penal systems; and only after a careful weighing of their merits and defects, to decide on those, or on parts of those, which seem most favourable to the grand modern objects of prison discipline,—the reformation, and moral as well as social rehabilitation, of prisoners.
This question is agitating the French mind quite as powerfully as our own, and, perhaps, even more confusedly; as, with the exception of Mettray and La Colonie Agricole for youthful offenders, no attempts have hitherto been made to reform the criminal class. Consequently their systems have not been so thoroughly ventilated as ours. Of the writers on criminal discipline now flooding the French press, we select two, of ten years' interval ; M. Bonneville, who wrote in 1847, and M. Lepelletier, whose work has but just appeared. It will be interesting to trace the change of feeling which may have passed over the public, on this question, during this period.