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Hester is possessed naturally of a vigorous intellect, improved by early study, and by a free ad
REMARKS mission to the best society. As may well be sup ON A LATE REVIEW OF BACON. posed, her peculiar opinions upon some subjects almost approach monomania. I imagine her long
By a native, not a resident of Virginia. residence in the East has produced an effect upon “ It is the first duty of every christian and every her religious views, for there seems to be a med- patriot to oppose everything which tends to corley, in her conversation, of the doctrines of Chris-rupt public morals or promote licentiousness of tianity and of the dogmas of Islamism. She al- opinion.” This sentiment of one of your contribuluded, in pretty distinct terms, to a story resem-tors, has strongly affected my mind in reference bling in its outline the legendary tale of the Seven to a recent review of the works of Bacon, in the Sleepers of Ephesus, and which relates to certain Edinburgh Review, and which has been transpersons now sleeping at Damascus, whose awa- ferred, in a condensed form, to the columns of the kening, which is not far distant, is to be attended Messenger. Regarded merely as a composition, with some strange event. I believe we have all it is beyond all praise. Every paragraph betrays of us more or less of a spirit of hallucination, each the hand of a master. The illustrations, which perhaps when his own peculiar chord is struck, are most felicitously used, show that the writer is and more or less developed, as the craniologist at home in every department of polite literature. would say, as the proper bump is greater or Admiration of intellectual power and of rhetorical smaller.
graces, however, though always pleasant freeLady Hester has shown much friendship to our will offerings to genius, should never blind us to countrymen, and I think has received them when the moral bearings of any production. With all ever they have presented themselves, which she the admiration of the writer's power awakened has not always done to British travellers. Ladies by this essay, there was at the close of it a mournshe never receives. Whether this exclusion is ful conviction, which has been strengthened by founded upon the Turkish opinion of female infe- repeated reflection, that its tendency was to be riority, I had not an opportunity to judge. We deplored, and ought, if possible, to be counterhave certainly to thank her for her politeness and acted. It is altogether probable, that an undehospitality: and this she carried so far, notwith-fined sense—that something wrong and dangerous, standing our objections, as to send a servant with
was mixed up with all this splendid diction-may fruit to our boat at Sidon. We left her, wishing her have pervaded the minds of others. With this more happiness than I am afraid is in store for her. feeling, I had expected to see something in the
Messenger which would have obviated any remarks by the writer; but having waited in vain,
may 1 have the use of a few pages to give utterHEAVEN.
ance to the thoughts that have arisen from the
reading of this essay? (FROM A LADY'S ALBUM.)
What shall be said, regards almost exclusively There is a realm beyond the distant sky,
the latter part of the review, beginning with the Veiled from the impious gaze of mortal eye February number of the Messenger. With the A realm of bliss unfading and serene,
biographical part there can be no just quarrel. Where sorrow is not known, and vice hath never been! The apprehension of injurious effects arises from No anxious cares there rack the heaving breast ;
the views given of the Baconian philosophy, and There none are found by wo or grief oppressed ;
the high eulogium on its superior practical advanThe needy widow there shall cease to need,
tages, as contrasted especially with the philosophy And gain that wealth for which a world might bleed. of Plato. Many may smile at this honest expression
of apprehension. Why, they may ask, what injury The tear that glistened oft in beauty's eye,
will it or can it do society, or what influence can it There shall the pure celestial breezes dry ;
have on the moral interests of our community, And every sigh which filled the earthly breast, In holy bliss shall there be calmed to rest.
whether a man prefers or praises the philosophy of
Bacon or of Plato? Are not these mere questions No plaints of broken vows shall there be heard ! of speculation? No; far otherwise. This essay has No victims there of ardent hopes deferred
had, and will have its moral influence; it will Shall be ;-no chidings of the jealous mind ;-- shape the thoughts, and mould the sentiments, and No artful wiles affection's links to bind.
give a tinge to the plans of those who move the All sensual feudsmall bitter strifes shall cease
opinions of the mass. “ Philosophia sedet ad O'er the fair scene shall triumph heavenly Peace;
Jubernaculum.” She is the true mistress-more While Love in one continuous glow shall beam potent than literature--more lasting than governThe pure, enshrined Divinity its theme !
ments, in moulding men's opinions. She strikes Alexandria, December, 1934.
her empire into the depths of the soul. “The
principles of philosophy, good or bad, when incor- philosophy, and self-consciousness the great means porated in the minds of the few thinking and of its prosecution. It existed before Plato. It reflecting, descend and entrench themselves, not so survived him. It exists yet, but it bears his much as speculative views, but as practical prin- name, because he gave it shape and clothed it with ciples, into the body of the people.” The spirit beauty. So Baconism is the summing up and of pbilosophy, in the minds of the intellectual of systematizing of the other great tendency of the an age, are like the inner works of a clock; we human mind, both in regard to the object of pursee the results on the mass, as we see the outward suit, and the method of attaining it. The theaindex of the time-piece. The retired student tre of this last philosophy is matter, and mind as powerfully agitates, or mightily controls that sea affected by matter. The method of pursuit is strict of human affairs, from which he is at so great a analysis of, and experiment upon, matter, and a distance. “In view of the wide and fatal influence careful collation of the knowledge we acquire by of false philosophy, we should aim to correct it, means of the senses. It existed before Bacon. notwithstanding the perils involved in the at- Its developments may be seen in all history, tempi,” or the presumption which seems to be as the constant antagonist of the other philosophy; argued by the effort. “We are not to abandon and as one method or the other prevailed at differthe errors of philosophy as hopeless, or disregardent periods, we may see the method of philosothem as innocent, while we know that their seat phizing appropriate to matter, applied to the disis at the very centre of all influence, and their coveries of mind, or the rules of philosophizing power is almost omnipotent.” In this conflict, proper for investigation of the mind, applied to about the true philosophy, is embosomed some of analysis of matter. Bacon gave this philosophy the best interests of man; and every one, accord- form and substance and eclat. He reduced its ing to his ability, should contribute to rectify scattered principles to a system, and showed the the wrong, and recommend the right. With true method of making progress in material disthese convictions, the writer diffidently adventures coveries. He gave it his name because he made his protest against this essay.
it popular, and illustrated its advantages more fully It has been well remarked, that "the human than any of his predecessors. mind possesses an instinct which leads it to seek If this view of the history of philosophy be corthe deeper grounds and universal relations of the rect, it seems very obvious, that neither of these various objects of its knowledge, and organize methods can be sufficient of itself, unless we abanfrom them a systematic whole.” From this don, as altogether useless, one of the two grand instinct arises philosophy. Men who think must departments of human investigation, or involve be philosophers. They must follow some method ourselves in inextricable confusion by transferring in the pursuit and arrangement of knowledge. from its appropriate sphere, the respective method The question is not, shall we philosophize, but of mental or material investigation. Nothing can how shall we do it? In any age but a few are phi- be more unphilosophical than an overweening losophers, strictly speaking, i. e., in the sense of sense of importance on either side, or by either of having felt within themselves this instinct, and these families of philosophers, which would utterly yielded to its suggestion by forming new methods condemn or ridicule the other. While matter of philosophizing. The mass philosophize accord- remains to be investigated, and material discoreing to the methods which reign around them, and ries and triumphs are important and desirable, which they have found established, and generally none should desire to see the philosophy of Bacon surrender themselves to some master, both in again immured in the dust of metaphysics; and regard to the mode of philosophy and the supreme while mind remains worthy of investigation, and objects of pursuit. There has been, in the history its powers and operations constitute a subject of of philosophy, two great families of philosophers, contemplation, no one should desire to see the spior methods of philosophizing. In different ages, ritual philosophy completely exorcised by the and for different temporary peculiarities, these mechanical. The system of Bacon, for certain have been distinguished by different names; such purposes, is desirable and useful. It is good in its as idealisin and realisin--the spiritual and mate-place. So is the system of Plato. But the rerial—the metaphysical and mechanical. It is not viewer, taking occasion from a new edition of the proper to enter into the minutia of this history works of Bacon, has elaborated a most masterly now. We consider these two kinds of philoso-exposition of his philosophy, and holding it up in ply to be the manifestations of two grand lead- contrast with Platonism, challenges for the one ing tendencies of mind-geistesrichtungen, as the system universal suffrage, and endeavors to create Germans say—which have always existed among against the other the feeling of contempt. Withmankind. Of these, Bacon and Plato may be out pretending to be exclusively a Platonist, or considered the representatives, Platonism is hut deeming that idealism is the only way to arrive at the summing up, or systematizing of one of these full knowledge of the system of things, there may tendencies, that considers spirit the great object of be an advantage in repelling these exclusive claims,
and showing some of the excellencies of the Pla- | Plato had always in his eye the spiritual, the tonic philosophy
abiding, the eternal wants of man: Bacon had The review in question may be considered as a in view his animal, temporary, vanishing nesystematic and most elaborate attempt to show cessities. The true question is, which of these that utility is the proof of the true philosophy. two systems, if we must choose between them, Any system which cannot show its fruit is to be lays the strongest claim to our admiration? or, rejected, and the fruit thus considered as the genu- in other words, must we abandon Plato and ine and only test of a philosophical system, is, his object, even if we admire Bacon in his wide “ when called by its christian name," physical sphere ? enjoyment. The reviewer states over and over, Our controversy with the reviewer, is not that and with manifest encomium, that the end of the he praises Bacon; but that he despises Plato. We Baconian philosophy is this kind of fruit, and that object entirely to the test he has adopted. If fruit it has produced it, is the demonstration of its vast in his sense, be the proper test, then we confess superiority. This is what is meant by “the well- the philosophy of Plato, which “ aims to form the being of man :" this is the plain translation of soul,” and to produce the elevation, expansion, Bacon's Latin phrase, “commoda vita”-abun- and refinement of man's spiritual nature, is wrong dance of good things. This is “the way the mass in aim and absurd in means. This philosophy, understand the term good.” It is physical enjoy- which boasts no such results, as can be the object ment or animal comfort. The position is broadly of sight and touch, because its domain is spiritual, and most ingeniously taken, and most learnedly must shrink from competition amidst the clatter defended, that this is the “summum bonum" of of spinning-jennies, the roar of steam engines, and man. Here we are constrained to say, if this be the lightning of rail-road cars, the legitimate and so, then the philosophy of Bacon is the philosophy lauded fruits of the mechanical philosophy. But for man. Grant these premises, and the conclu- is this the only kind of fruit which philosophy sion seems irresistible. If fruit, in this sense, is the ought to produce? We say no. But the reviewer great and only desideratum, Bacon has a right to seems to say yes, and then gives the weight of his be called the philosopher, and his system the talents, and the fascinations of his style, to this falphilosophy; for sure it is, he has made us more lacy-a fallacy, which, when it takes full possescomfortable, and his philosophy has added vastly sion of any human soul, must degrade it-and a to our animal enjoyments. That this is not a libel fallacy which presents the strongest obstacle in the on the object of Bacon's philosophy, or of the way of the real elevation of our race. I mean the reviewer's meaning, may be gathered from the fallacy--that enjoyment in the physical sense of fact that he thought Bacon had more claims than the word is the real “summum bonum.” This we Epicurus to the eulogy.
take to be the proton pseu dos of the whole sys
tem. It is Epicureanism revived and amended; 0! tenebris tantis tam clarum ex tollere lumen
it attaches supreme importance to the sensible; it Qui primus potuisti, illustrans commoda vilæ.
allows no value to what cannot somehow be Which may be Englished somewhat freely thus : touched, tasted or bandled; it makes an apotheosis
of the animal in man; it measures human glory by Thou, first to scatter darkness from the art of living worthy of our sensual part.
conquests over matter-human wisdom by its
inventions, and human wealth by material sources Epicurus professed to introduce a philosophy of gratification; it makes the great proofs of the which secured pleasure. But in the reviewer's progress of man—for which as a race we ought to opinion, be failed in the attempt, and what he failed be singing hallelujahs—10 consist in our machinery to do, Bacon accomplished. He illustrated the for locomotion, or our engines for using gunpowreal conveniences of life, and made provision for der; its glory is, that it“ furnishes new arms for the man's physical enjoyment; he attended to “vulgar warrior,” and that by its means we can traverse wants ;" he disdained the impracticablo idea of the earth in cars which whirl along without horses, making man a God; he contented himself with and the ocean in ships which sail against the wind.” rendering him comfortable as an animal, and his It is a material philosophy, whose triumphs are glory is that he succeeded.
material, whose tendencies are materialising: all Here we think is the real point where the two good enough in its proper place and degree, but not systems are to be compared. Bacon's philosophy good to the exclusion of everything else. Here is our was for the animal in man: Plato's for the divine controversy with this essay; it gives a tremendous in man. Bacon's progress is marked by sensible impetus to the materialising tendencies of the gratification : Plato's hy mental elevation. Plato's times; it stamps the ugly spirit of utilitarianism aim is character: Bacon's enjoyment. Plato with the graces of style, and endorses it with the designed by his philosophy the highest possible sanction of a master in literature. This essay will derelopment of the human spirit: Bacon the give this spirit an entrance into many minds, and utmost possible convenience of the human body. Ja supposititious influence over many hearts. It
will help to make this jejune philosophy-jejune, 1 held in common too with spirits of the noblest I mean, as to any fruit but what is merely physi- character, through the long tract of human history, cal or calculable, the popular philosophy, and cannot be easily relinquished, notwithstanding the popular too, in a region of our land where hith- beautiful antithesis of contempt, delivered ex catheerto the old feelings and habits have been all the dra, from Edinburgh, and endorsed in the Old Doother way: it will provoke the south to a bad am- minion! Nor do I deem myself by any means unique bition, and to an unhappy rivalry. When gene- in this taste. Many, I am persuaded, if they rally welcomed, and when it has performed its would pause long enough amidst the objects of perfect work along with other influences now in material admiration and of bodily enjoyment, operation, it will convert the fields of the south into which the Baconian philosophy of fruit has brought vast repositories of machinery-make a profusion to our age, to drink of the well of Plato's philosoof rail-roads, the synonyme and proof of internal phy, would say, as I have felt disposed to say, improvement, and money-making the great desid- many times while reading this contrast, “ Were eratum.
I doomed only to be dashed a little while in this This philosophy and its fruit does not suit my sea of life, and then to be conscious no more, (and taste. I know “De gustibus non disputandum this let it be remembered is the real issue made by est ;" but in the words of the reviewer," from the the reviewer, not entering at all on the educational cant of this philosophy,” this everlasting reitera- or disciplinary influences of the two systems for tion of steam engines, spinning jennies and rail- eternity,) methinks I would rather float—the sea all road cars,“ sick chairs, guns, cutlery, spy-glasses around me—the sky above me, and have a thinkand clocks," and all the other paraphernalia that ing soul, that holds communion with a spiritual “minister to our vulgar wants,” and all good world, for a little while at least, within me, on this enough in their place, it is delightful to turn to the plank from Paradise, as some one calls Plato, than pages where Plato breathes the lessons of his own to be whirled along without time to think, or divine philosophy. It is like escaping from the leisure to look at the beautiful world, I should murky streets of a city, where a thousand chimneys leave so soon and forever, as a part of one of are volleying forth the coal smoke, and its collateral your modern modes of locomotion, called railquantum of dirt, and breathing the fresh air of the road cars, or even through the sea, without sail, country. Even as Platonism is given by the and against the wind, in company with the highreviewer himself—though given for the purpose of est conquest of mind over matter, in the shape invidious contrast with the substantial benefits of of a steamship.” It is an old fashioned sentiBaconism-almost any unsophisticated mind would ment, but still I must confess I would rather say, “ the old wine is better.” Does not every breathe after all the air of heaven than of “ Soloone feel disposed to say, “we must attend necessa- mon's house.” rily to the body and its wants, and their supply; But the review is not objectionable merely as a but we want still something nobler, higher, more matter of taste, but of principle. A far more elevating;" there are irrepressible aspirations of serious fault is its direct tendency to throw into the spirit often buried up amidst the turmoil of the shade those feelings of the human soul, which vulgar cares and material distractions, but which produce disgust at the racket and rattle of material it is luscious to indulge?” These Bacon never takes existence, so far as not absolutely necessary in the for granted, or believes in, but Plato tries at least discharge of duty. It is guilty, and we take it to to provide for. Surely man was made for some be no small guilt, of casting a distorted eye and a thing more spiritualizing than to enjoy the “ com- sneering glance at these noble desires for commoda vitæ.” I may live in the wrong age. My munion with the beautiful and the good in our tendencies, sympathies and habits, may have been universe, which we are all too prone to disregard; guilty of an awful and unpardonable anachronism. and with the holy and abstracted in our own characThe progress of the Baconian philosophy may ters, which we are all too willing to forego. We do place me where Posidonius of old was placed by not object to his praising the inventive genius of Seneca, still "naturam expellas,” &c. I must the age; we do not blame him for narrating the plead guilty to the sin against utilitarianisın, of results of the inductive philosophy, nor do we wish preferring the reputation of working into the at all to detract from the credit and the utility of human spirit one idea, like the divine“ know thy- these things—we must have them and use them as self,” to that of having made the first arch, in- we wear our clothes and eat our dinners. But we vented the steam engine, the cotton gin, or what do object, and seriously too, to his warring under the reviewer seems to think of immense moment, the name of Platonism, against whatever in man even gunpowder. As a matter of taste, I must is holiest and most spiritualized. We enter our plead guilty of loving Plato and his philosophy, solemn protest against his implicitly calling that much as it is despised by the reviewer. Senti- mysticism and puerility, which though cherished ments, the growth of years, most worthy of confi- and valued, by the loveliest and best that erer dence in moments of highest self-consciousness, belonged to our race, yet cannot be weighed, mea
sured, or made productive of material fruits. Let character? Whatever the reviewer, or his admikim praise Bacon, but let him not point the finger rer who furnished it for the Messenger, may of scorn against Plato. Here we would desire to think, there are those who do honestly believe, be explicit in our condemnation, not as a matter and every day more firmly, that unless something of taste, but on the higher ground of its moral ten-arrest our downward, earthly, materializing tendency. We dread the kind of character which dency, all that is noble in character is gone, and this philosophy will produce, and the direction it that we shall become like the divinities of Egypt, will give to the object of pursuit; we feel dis- calves of gold amidst pyramids of power. This gusted at the low aims it encourages, and the gor- is what alarms us. What, let it be asked, is the genus baptism it gives to ignoble and degrading spirit which this philosophy would cultivate and enterprises. And it is because the real nature render universal? Is it not just the spirit which and tendency of this philosophy is so well shielded asked at the end of Paradise Lost, “Will it raisé from detection by happy illustrations, admirable the price of corn," or that would more approtouches upon human prejudices, fine compliments priately ask, in the region where the Messenger to the common classes of mankind, and an appear- circulates, “Will it raise the price of cotton or ance of remarkable candor, that we consider the tobacco?” This is precisely the test to which the essay in question the more dangerous.
reviewer would have everything subjected. What It is our sober and growing conviction, that we if it does sosten, refine, elevate our souls, this Plahave too little Platonism in our day, not too tonism breatbed into an immortal poem or a thrilmuch—that our tendencies are downward, not ling essay, or manifested in acts of magnanimity upward—that our danger is of excessive animal- and self-consecration, by those whose souls have ism, not spiritualism. The American character, been formed by its influences—what of all this, if it generally, is antipodal to that of the Platonist phi- does not contribute to the well-being of man, in losopher. Now we fear, that many who have the sense in which the mass generally underindulged in Platonism, without knowing its name, stand the word, good ?" “Where is its fruit ?” and have felt its refining power over their charac- asks the Baconian: “It is fruit a true philosopher ters, will, after reading this review, shrink from looks for, and what brings forth no fruit, though it an indulgence which may be so effectually ridi- may charm the eye, and soften the heart, and calm culed. Many a youth, whose original tendencies the soul, and tranquillize the temper, and raise towards Platonism, have not been altogether the soul above the sense of 'vulgar wants,' is of chilled—for fallen as man is, he still instinctively no practical value.” We ask again, is this the spirit pants after the beautiful and the perfect and the we want to have fostered? Is this the highest spiritual-will, after reading this authoritative con- man can aspire to? Must everything which demnation of all such stuff
, hasten the process of brings no per cent. of present or palpable gain, exterminating such fruitless, and consequently be exorcised from human feeling and affection, improper susceptibilities. Such persons will soon, by this relentless philosophy which values nothunder such influences, cease to love and practice ing but fruit? If so, for one, I am almost temptthe philosophy that aims to form the soul, and turned to say-away with such philosophy, with all to the more popular system that promises fruits. its fruits. Character is an idea, they will soon learn to say,
Let us try this philosophy by a test, which very but cash is a reality. Discipline of mind and cul- probably may sometimes occur. A rail-road is protivation of heart is Platonism, and must be es- posed to be taken through an ancient and timechewed. Increase of purse, and increase of mus- honored graveyard! The question is, shall we discular energy is Baconism, and must be assiduously turb the dead for the gain of the living? Shall we cultivated. Will not such a philosophy, produ- remove or permit to repose the remains of those, cing such fruit, be ultimately injurious? Will it who, when they laid them down in that spot of not sap the very foundation on which true nobility earth, hoped to rest there till the morning of the of character is to be reared? Soberly and seriously resurrection? What does the philosophy of Bacon we ask, is there not reason for apprehension from say? It says, the feeling that attaches sacredness to such eloquent eulogies on fruit, and such dispar- place—the luxury of weeping over a consecrated agement even of the end aimed at by the Platonic spot of earth—the desire to have a quantity of philosophy ? Ought we not to be alarmed at this powdered dust, once the form of a dear friend, to sober and settled effort to make us altogether rest undisturbed—these are all ideal. The benefits material; especially when all the tendencies of of a rail-road are substantial. You will gain one an age of enterprise-of feverish speculation—of hundred per cent. on invested capital, and this, mad cupidity, are in the same direction? Do we according to the strict inductive philosophy, is need stimulants and arguments to make us more demonstration that the cypress and the yew earthly in all our pursuits and plans? Does the should bow, and the dead be huddled out of the age, and does our country need more of Bacon or way, and the lightning speed of conveyance of Plato to mitigate our excesses, and modify our for passengers, and of transportation for goods, be