Page images





Note (A.) page 132. The following anecdote of Campanella is told by an old French author, who represents himself as having been an eye-witness of the particulars he relates. As I have never happened to see the book in the original, I shall copy the words of the English translator, whose work, I believe, is seldom to be met with but in the libraries of the curious.

“If a man endeavour to counterfeit any other man's countenance, and that he fancy himselfe to have his haire, eyes, nose, mouth, and all other parts like him; and, in a word, if he imagine himselfe to be like him in his physiognomy, he may by this means come to know what his natural inclinations, and what his thoughts are, by the same which he finds in himselfe, during the time of this his making of faces. This opinion is grounded upon the experience of Campanella, who expresseth himselfe in these words : ‘Cum quis hominem videt, statim imaginari oportet, se nasum habere, ut alter habet, et pilum, et vultum, et frontem, et locutionem: et tunc qui affec-, tus et cogitationes in hac cogitatione illi obrepunt, judicat homini illi esse proprios, quem ita imaginando contuetur. Hoc non absque ratione et experientiâ. Spiritus enim format corpus, et juxta affectus innatos ipsuin fingit, exprimitque.' (De Sensu Rerum et Magia.) I alwaies thought that the opinion of Campanella was,

that a man should only imagine himselfe to have the same countenance with the other, as his words seem to mean; but when I was at Rome, understanding that he was brought into the Inquisition, I did, out of curiosity to be satisfied in this particular, take the pains to visit him there. Being therefore in the company of some abbots, we were brought to the chamber where he was; who, as soon as he perceived us, came to us, and entreated us to have a little patience till he had ended a little note, which he was writing to Cardinal Magaloti. When we were sate down, we observed him often times to make certain wry faces, which we conceived to proceed either from folly, or else from some pain that the violence of the torments which he had endured put him to; the calves of his legs being all beaten black and blue, and his buttocks having hardly any flesh on them; it having been taken from him, piece-meal, to the end they might force him to confess the crime that he was accused of. But a learned German will shortly publish the history of his life and misfortunes. To return, then, to our purpose, one of our company, amongst other discourse, asking him if he felt no pain, he smiling, answered no. And supposing that we had been something troubled at the wry faces which he made, he told us that, at our coming in he fancied himself to be Cardinal Magaloti, as he had heard him described. And he asked us withal, if he were not a very hairy man. Now I, who had before read that passage in his book, which I have before set down, presently conceived that these wry faces are altogether necessary for to be able to judge aright of another man's natural inclination. I shall not here set down what passed betwixt us in this interview, because it is wholly besides my present subject.”—(Unheard of Curiosities, &c. &c. Written in French, by James Gaffarel, and nglished by Edmund Chilmead, chaplaine of Christ-Church, Oxon. pp. 174, 175, 186. London, 1650.)

To this book, (which possesses very little merit of any kind, being full of the follies of astrology,) the following testimony is prefixed by the translator, from Leo Allatius, author of a work entitled, Apes Urbanæ. “ Curiosus hic liber intra sex menses ter fuit editus : bis Parisiis, et semel aliâ Galliarum in urbe innominatâ.” The only copy of the translation that has fallen in my way is in the library of the Earl of Minto.

Note (B.) page 213.
“The figur'd brass, the choral song," &c. &c.

Akonside's Ode to sleep. These lines, and various other passages in this poet's works, will be read with additional interest, when it is known that they were not suggested entirely by fancy. I allude to those passages where he betrays a secret consciousness of powers adapted to a higher station in life than fell to his lot. Akenside, when a student at Edinburgh, was a member of the Medical Society, then recently formed, and was eminently distinguished by the eloquence which he displayed in the course of the de. bates. Dr. Robertson (who was at that time a student of divinity in the same university) told me that he was frequently led to attend their meetings, chiefly to hear the speeches of Akenside; the great object of whose ambition then was a seat in Parliament, a situation which he was sanguine enough to flatter himself he had some prospect of obtaining; and for which he conceived his talents to be much better adapt. ed than for the profession he had chosen. In this opinion he was probably in the right, as he was generally considered by his fellow-students as far inferior in medical science to several of his companions,

The very scanty knowledge which the public possesses with respect to Akenside's life and character, will, I trust, be a sufficient excuse for recording these slight particulars,

Note (C.) page 221. The late Dr. Thomas Brown was a person of rare and admirable talents; of the most extensive and various learning; and, in conversing upon metaphysical questions, which do not lie far removed from the surface, one of the quickest men, and most acute arguers that I have ever known. Like most other men, however, of very quick parts, he was too confident in his rapid judgments; too ready to conclude that there were no difficulties in his way when he was unable to see them; and not sufficiently aware, that, in this science, much more than in any other, the success of our inquiries depends on that capacity of patient thinking, to which Newton had the modesty to ascribe all the merit of his greatest discoveries. In this capacity, I cannot help thinking that Dr. Brown was remarkably deficient; and to this cause, more than to any other, I am disposed to impute his very loose and inaccurate use of language on various important occasions.t. To this cause also, I apprehend we ought in candor to ascribe the countenance he has given to some doctrines, which, to more cautious and profound thinkers, appear to have a practical tendency altogether at variance with his known principles and opinions. In short, what La Harpe has remarked of his friend Voltaire, as an apology for some inconsistencies in his metaphysical speculations, may be applied to Dr. Brown, and perhaps to most other poets who have engaged in similar inquiries. “Les objets de méditation étoient trop étrangers à l'excessive vivacité de son esprit. Saisir fortement par l'imagination les objets qu'elle ne doit montre que d'un côté, c'est ce qui est du poëte; les em

. I was informed by the late Dr. James Gregory (whose father, Dr. John Gregory, was a contemporary and an intimato friend of Akenside's) that in this Society the doctrines of the great Boerhaave were first overthrown.

t I shall confine myself here to one instance ; the use which he has made of the words will and dosire as synonymous; a confusion of terms, by which the question concerning the froedom of the will is completely prejudged. I select this in preference to others for various reasons: I. Because the distinction between them was long ago clearly pointed out by Locke, the substance of whose remarks on this head may be concisely stated in the two following propositions: 1. That at the same moment a man may desire one thing and will another. 2. That at the same moment a man may have contrary desires, but cannot have contrary wills. These decisive observations Locke has accompanied by the following sarcastic remark, “I find the will often confounded with desire, and one put for the other, and that by men who would not willingly be thought not to have very distinct notions of things, and not to have written very clearly about them.”—(Essay on Human Understanding, Vol. 1. p. 203.) II. Because Dr. Brown fell into this error at an early period of his life ; and as I was anxious to correct it, and was aware even then of his unwillingness to abandon any of his declared opinions, I endeavoured indirectly to call his attention to it, by inserting the passage just quoted from Locke in a note (which, for obvious reasons, I was sure Dr. Brown would read) at the end of the second edition of my first Volume. See Note (0.). In order to convey my suggestions with still greater delicacy, I took no notice of Dr. Brown's slip, but referred to a passage in his antagonist Darwin, who, by a singular and somewhat ludicrous coincidence, bad been guilty of the very same abuse of

I must own it was with some regret, that, in the third edition of his Cause and Effect, published as late as the year 1818, I found him not only persovering in the same mistake, but employing many pages of discussion in retorting on those philosophers by whom the distinction had been made.(Soo p. 49. et seq.)


It gives

brasser par toutes les faces, c'est ce qui est du philosophe; et Voltaire étoit trop exclusivement l'un pour être l'autre.”-(Cours de Littérature, Tom XV. pp. 46, 47.)

The account given of Dr. Brown's posthumous work by his ingenious and friendly biographer bears ample testimony to the truth of some of these remarks. an additional value to the printed lectures to know, (and there is the most satisfactory evidence upon the subject,) that nearly the whole of the lectures that are contained in the first three volumes were written during the first year of his professorship, and the whole of the remaing lectures the following season.

“In going over his lectures the following year, his own surprise was great, to find that he could make but little improvement upon them. He could account for it in no other way but by his mind having been in a state of very powerful excitement. As he continued to read the same lectures till the time of his death, they were printed from his manuscripts exactly as he wrote them, without addition or retrenchment." (Account of the Life and Writings of Thomas Brown, M. D., by the Reverend D. Welsh, minister of Crossmichael, p. 196.) A few pages before we are told, (what indeed I had always suspected,) that“ the subject of many of his lectures he had never reflected upon till he took up the pen; and many of his theories occurred to him during the period of composition.” p. 193.

On another occasion, we are assured by the same authority, " That Dr. Brown preferred poetry to philosophy. The rapidity with which he arrived at the knowledge of the questions that have been discussed among philosophers, made him feel it as an irksome task to dwell upon those intermediate steps which were necessary for the satisfaction of other minds, though to his quicker glance the conclusions seemed intuitively obvious.". (Ibid. p. 394.) The same writer observes in a note, that " when the third edition of Dr. Brown's Cause and Effect was going to press, in reading some of the most abstruse passages, he would say, Now this really seems to me more like the multiplication table than any thing else.*

The respectable author from whom I have copied these details, with an amiable, though not always well-judged solicitude about the fame of his friend, considers them as giving an additional value to his posthumous work ; but he would perhaps have acted more wisely if he had mentioned them as an apology for the imperfections, which, under all the circumstances of the case, were unavoidable in the labors of any human being who did not write under the immediate influence of inspiration,

But the most exceptionable passages in Mr. Welsh's book (because from the oracular tone which he has been pleased to assume in them, they are the most likely to impose on shallow understandings,) are those in which he speaks of Dr. Brown's powers of Analysis, when he ought rather to have warned novices (who are always most liable to be misled by an overweening vanity) of the danger of attempting to analyze things unsusceptible of analysis; or, in Mr. Locke's homely but expressive language, to have exhorted them to stop when they are at the end of their tether." They who are competent to form a judgment for themselves in such matters will at once understand my meaning, when I request them, after perusing Dr. Brown's three long lectures on personal identity, to take up Bishop Butler's very short essay on the

same subject, annexed to his Analogy.

The parts of Dr. Brown's work which I read with the most unmixed pleasure, were those elegant passages of a moral and practical tendency, where, without giving way to a spirit of over-refinement, he follows the powerful impulse of his own feelings. These had to me a peculiar charm, as I recognised in all his sentiments a faithful picture of his benevolent, liberal, and elevated mind.

The foregoing remarks, some of which I offer with extreme reluctance, have been extorted from me by a perusal of the work of his learned but not very judicious biographer, who, notwithstanding the aids he has derived from the instrument of phrenology,t seems to me not unfrequently to be subject to the same delusion which

* In turning over the leaves of this bulky volume, (which I never had done till I had read Mr. Wesh's work) I was sometimes forced to acknowledge the truth of the old saying, that.“easy writing is not always the easiest reading." Whoever may have the courage carefully to peruse it from beginning to end, and happens to add to his powers of paiient reading, the much rarer power of patient thinking, may perhaps be of opinion with me, that the anecdote recorded in the above passage might as well have been suppressed.

| For Mr. Welsh's own statement of the length to which he carries his admiration of phrenology, see his Life of Dr. Brown, Note N. p. 519. From this long and very amusing Note, I have room only to extract a single sentence. “I am convinced that the time is speedily approaching when, great as Dr. Brown's merits in other respects will always be allowed to be, his greatest merit will be seen to VOL. III.


« PreviousContinue »