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infancy; or, in the more concise metaphysical language of a later period, to draw the line between the original and the acquired perceptions of the eye."* This is admitted by standard psychological writers as a grand truth contributed to their science; and is asserted by the ablest of modern metaphysicianst to have “remained one of the least disputed doctrines in the most disputed and most disputable of all sciences--the science of man.” The same writer thus states and illustrates Berkeley's theory :
“Of the information which we appear to receive, and which we really do, in the maturity of our faculties, receive through the eye, a part only is originally and instinctively furnished by the sense; the remainder is the result of experience. The sense of sight informs us of nothing originally except light and colors, and a certain arrangement of colored lines and points. This arrangement contributes what are called, by opticians and astronomers, apparent figure, apparent position, and apparent magnitude; of real figure, position, and magnitude, the eye teaches us nothing: these are facts revealed exclusively by the sense of touch. We judge an object to be more distant from us, by the diminution of its apparent magnitude, that is, by linear perspective; or by that dimness or faintness of color which generally increases with distance, or, in other words, by aerial perspective. Berkeley alleges that, to a person born blind, and suddenly made to see, all objects would seem to be in his eye, or, rather, in his mind. It would be more correct to say such a person would, at first, have no conception of in or out, and would only be conscious of colors and not of objects."
In 1810, one year after the appearance of the Theory of Vision, which made an epoch" in science, Berkeley published his Principles of Human Knowledge, which gave the final stamp to his philosophical character, and made an epoch in metaphysics. In this he asserted the doctrine of immaterialism, a doctrine much misunderstood and misrepresented, and which innumerable literary snobs have “ vanquished with a grin.”! The adverse critics of his time either had not read what they criticised or dishonestly imputed to him what he never asserted or believed. They repeat the most trivial objections, which he had himself anticipated, answered and refuted in his book. They misunderstand, or affect to misunderstand him, and, forcing a meaning upon his words which he had expressly rejected, then reproach him * Dugald Stewart.
with inconsistency. When he denied the existence of matter, he merely denied its existence in the sense which the philosophers had assigned to it. He denied the existence of that unknown substratum, which Locke had declared to be a necessary inference from our knowledge of qualities, but the nature of which must ever be altogether hidden from us. Philosophers had assumed the existence of substance, that is, of something lying underneath all phenomena, and supporting all qualities—something in which all accidents inhere. This unknown substance Berkeley denies, regarding it as the basis of Atheism. He maintains that the appearances themselves are the things, and that there is nothing beyond. In this he is supported by the common sense of mankind. When, therefore, Dr. Johnson says, “ I thus refute Berkeley," kicking a stone, he does the philosopher great injustice, as if Berkeley ever denied that what we call stones exist. In reply to the learned lexicographer, he says:
“That the things which I see with my eyes and touch with my hands do exist, really exist, I make not the least question. The only thing whose existence I deny is, that which philosophers call matter or corporeal substance.
If the word substance be taken, in the vulgar sense, for a combination of sensible qualities, such as extension, solidity, weight, &c., this we cannot be accused of taking away. But if it be taken in the philosophic sense, for the support of accidents or qualities without the mind, then, indeed, I acknowledge that we take it away, if we may be said to take away that which never had any existence.
Assert the evidence of sense as high as you please, we are willing to do the same. That what I see, hear and feel, duth exist, that is, is perceived by me, I no more doubt than I do of my own being; but I do not see how the testimony of sense can be alleged as a proof of any thing which is not perceived by sense.”
How uncandid, then, Beattie, Reid and others, who tauntingly asked, why Berkeley did not run his head against a post, or walk over precipices, as, in accordance with his theory, no pain, no broken limbs could result.* Whiston said he could not answer Berkeley, but did not believe his absurd conclusions. Towards the close of the year 1714, Berkeley had a
" What is the consequence? I resolve not to believe my senses. I break my head against a post that comes in my way; I step into a dirty kennel ; and, after twenty such wise and rational actions, I am taken up and clapt into a mad-house. Now, I confess I had rather take one of these credulous fools, whom nature imposes upon, than of those wise and rational philosophers who resolve to withhold assent at all this expense."--Reid's Inquiry, chap. vi., sec. 20.
fever, and Dr. Arbuthnot, in a letter to his friend Swift, speaking of his convalescence, writes : “Poor philosopher Berkeley has now the idea of health, which was very hard to produce in him, for he had an idea of a strange fever on him, so strong that it was very hard to destroy it by introducing a contrary one." It was much easier, however, to laugh at Berkeley than to answer him.
In 1713, three years after the publication of his Principles of Human Knowledge, he left Ireland and proceeded to London, where he produced his Three Dialogues between Hylos and Philonous, which contain a further development and defence of his doctrine of Immaterialism ; and these are the only works in which his Ideal Theory is formally and directly maintained. The Dialogues are singularly animated and imaginative. The ingenuity and acuteness of intellect displayed in these writings attracted the attention of literary circles, and his acquaintance was sought and cultivated by the most distinguished persons of the time. His countrymen Steele and Swift were active in introducing him to those who might advance his interests. He wrote several papers in the Guardian, for each of which, Steele, the editor, is said to have paid him “a guinea and a dinner," together with the public compliment that he “ embellished the Guardian with many excellent arguments in honor of religion and virtue.” At Steele's house he frequently met Pope, and formed an intimacy with him which grew into a permanent friendship. He was introduced to the celebrated Earl of Peterborough, by Swift, whose influence with this nobleman was very great. At his instance, the Earl took Berkeley with him as Chaplain and Secretary, when he was appointed Ambassador to the King of Sicily and the other Italian States.
In 1714 he returned with Lord Peterborough to England, upon a change of ministry ; but soon met with a favorable opportunity to extend his travels. Dr. St. George Ashe, then Bishop of Clogher, proposed to him to accompany, as tutor, his son on a tour through Europe. He accepted the office, and proceeded first to Paris, where he met the celebrated Father Malebranche, a philosophical inquirer, who had held opinions nearly similar to Berkeley's own, but renounced them on reading the beginning of Genesis, which seems to affirm the existence of the external world independently of the human mind. When Berkeley paid him a visit in his cell, he was laboring under an inflammation of the lungs; the disputants became so heated in argument and the impetuous Frenchman spoke so vehemently that his disease became greatly increased by the interview, and he died in a few days—a tragical result which must have deeply afflicted the amiable mind of Berkeley.
At this period he spent upwards of four years travelling over Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily. He had collected materials for a natural history of Sicily ; but they were unfortunately lost in the passage to Naples. His eloquent description of his visit to Ischia (ancient Inarime), in the Bay of Naples, and a brilliant account given of an eruption of Vesuvius, which he witnessed, have caused his biographers to regret this loss as a misfortune to the literary world. Had his genius been turned at an early period in this direction, there is little doubt that he would have been eminently successful as a naturalist. His keen penetration and discriminating judgment, his remarkable vigor, his graphic power of description, his inquisitive and patient research, together with his profound intellect, would have made him the Humboldt of his age. He evinced a love of external nature and a passion for its description, and his style is clear and unaffected, possessing a graceful ease and a freshness like that which characterizes the pages of Izaak Walton. There is a remarkable combination of poetic effect and accurate observation in his description of the island of Inarime, which he calls “ an epitome of the whole earth," and of its mountain, Mons Epomeus, rising from the centre and overlooking the scenery of the Æneid—" from the promontory of Antium to the cape of Palinurus." His enthusiasm, however, about the inhabitants, is highly amusing. He describes them, in their Arcadian innocence and simplicity, as men“ without riches and honors, and so without the vices and follies that attend them." Yet in the next sentence he says “ they have got, as an alloy to their happiness, an ill habit of murdering one another on slight offences.” He naïvely tells his correspondent that, “by the sole secret of minding our own business, we found a means of living safely among this dangerous people.” In the same rapturous strain he afterwards sung about the American Indians, when he was inspired by his intended pious mission to the Western World
"In happy climes the seat of innocence,
Where nature guides and virtue rules.”
But increased intercourse with men and manners scon taught the man of books and of the closet how visionary were his poetical notions about the innocence of the human race in a state of nature, and how romantic his ideas about “ another golden age.
In a letter to Dr. Arbuthnot, he describes his three ascents to Vesuvius. Of the first, he says :
- With much difficulty I reached the top of Mount Vesuvius, in wbich I saw a vast aperture, full of smoke, which hindered the seeing its depth and figure. I heard, within that horrid gulf, certain odd sounds, which seemed to proceed from the belly of the mountain-a sort of murmuring, sighing, throbbing, churning, dashing, as it were, of the waves, and, between whiles, a noise like that of thunder, or cannon, which was constantly attended with a clattering like that of tiles falling from the tops of houses on the streets.
In this ascent he obtained but an imperfect view of the scene below; but a momentary dispersion of the smoke displayed two furnaces nearly together, throwing up a ruddy flame," and discharges of red-hot stones. On the second occasion, on the 8th of May, he ascended under a different aspect of things. The air was calm, and a column of smoke ascended straight up, so as to leave clearly visible the boiling and bellowing chasm beneath, in which the two furnaces burned with greater fierceness than on the former day; one of them “throwing up every three or four minutes, with a dreadful bellowing, a vast number of red-hot stones - sometimes, in appearance, about a thousand and at least three thousand feet higher than my head, as I stood upon the brink ;' - the other furnace being equally remarkable in a different way, “ filled with red-hot liquid matter, like that in the furnace of a glasshouse, which raged and wrought as the waves of the sea, causing a short abrupt noise, like what may be imagined to proceed from a sea of quicksilver dashing among uneven rocks." Between this ascent and the 20th of June, he continued to make excursions in the vicinity, during which he observed the varying appearances of the mountain, sometimes pouring from its summit bright and glittering streams of lava, of which the burning course was traceable by the ruddy smoke which overhung it” along a huge track of sky. On other nights a tall column of flame shot up to the heavens out of the mountain, and disappeared in sudden