« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
to follow, though earnestly entreated by their mother to stay behind, the four young ladies were left in a quietness which the room had not known for many hours." In drawing the characters of Mrs. Jennings, and Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, Willoughby, Colonel Brandon, Edward Ferrars, the two Miss Steeles, Miss Austen has shown a surprising knowledge of human nature. Mrs. John Davy, in her family Journal, under the date of December, 1831, at Malta, says, in returning from Mr. Frere's, Sir Walter Scott spoke with praise of Miss Ferrier as a novelist, and then with still higher praise of Miss Austen; of the latter he said, "I find myself every now and then with one of her books in my hand. There's a finishing off in some of her scenes that is really quite above every body else."
Emma, and Northanger Abbey, of the writings of Miss Austen only remain, on which we shall say but a word or two. From Emma we should like to make one
quotation, but we refrain from so doing; we allude to the important talk on the comparative merits of Dr. Perry and Dr. Wingfield, and one of the strangely jumbled together conversations of Miss Bates, but not having the heart of Dogberry, who if he had possessed the tediousness of a king, was willing to inflict it on every one, we hasten on to Mr. John Thorp, in Northanger Abbey, who refused to take his sister out riding because she had thick ankles, and who had a horse that could not go less than ten miles an hour; even with his legs tied he would get on: and Catharine Morland, who, after reading Ann Radcliff's romances, and visiting Northanger Abbey, fancies every old chest and cabinet contains some interesting memorial of the past; and the first night she passes in the abbey brings fear and trepidation with it.
What a cheap and delightful pleasure reading is. These novels of Jane Austen I have read thrice, each time with renewed pleasure. They are always charming. I take them up in happy moments, and they cheer me in unhappy ones,-for sorrow comes to all. Even in solitude they introduce you to the most agreeable company, for all Jane Austen's characters are either old friends, or persons that you are confident are living somewhere on the earth,you listen to their conversation-you know
the tones of their voices. They seem to be in the very room with you.
How much Miss Austen has added to our round of harmless amusements. How much instruction is stamped on her pages. How clearly are displayed the viciousness of ill temper, procrastination, coquetry, affection, jealousy, meanness, and the many minor faults that embitter life. Every good novel is full of instruction. No one ever employed their genius to a better purpose than our fair authoress.
Thou thy worldly task has done,
And as Waller writes,
All that we know they do above
And surely no one was better fitted for such a sphere than Jane Austen. I commenced the reading of these volumes last summer, when the trees were covered with blossoms, the last few days the rain has fallen incesand the air was mild and balmy. During santly, the winds are roaring and sobbing the doors and windows. The walks are above the chimney, and rattling against strewn with yellow leaves, torn and swept from the trees, and the air is also thick been bright with the flames of a crackling with them. Within, the fire-place has wood fire, and two happy hearts, worthy to be happy, have filled the room with sunshine. I unconsciously nestle near the cheering flame as the storm drives against the house in angry gusts. Such is the season in which to read an entertaining novel or romance.
When heavy, dark, continued a' day rains
The storm has passed over. The glittering sunshine almost turns the dead leaves into things of beauty. My favorite nasturtiums, beautiful and hardy, again twinkle forth joyously. I have ascended the neighboring hills-the view is lovely-the air clear, sparkling and bracing. Some cattle "with meek mouths ruminant," are quietly standing in the sunshine, others eagerly crop the short rich grass. In a neighboring field a boy is driving oxen before a plough-his voice, and the cawing
of some crows are the only sounds that now break the utter stillness. Hark, they are blasting rocks on the line of the rail road. The reverberations echo like the booming of heavy artillery. Sloops are passing up and down the Hudson, and distant objects in the transparent atmosphere seem close at hand.
"The golden orb of the sun is sunk behind the hills, the colors fade away from the western sky, and the shades of evening fall fast around me. Deeper and deeper they stretch over the plain; I look at the grass, it is no longer green; the flowers are no more tinted with various hues; the houses, the trees, the cattle, are all lost in the distance. The dark curtain of night is let down over the works of God; they are blotted out from view, as if they were no longer there."
After my return from my walk, in turning over the leaves of some favorite poets, I met with the following passages that exactly harmonize with the present tone of my feelings. Reader, I know you will enjoy their genial and philosophical spirit.
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF COLERIDGE.
THE philosophical system of Coleridge | this second variety of pantheism, which is may be popularly characterized as that of Plato, or rather of the later Platonists, with the refinements and additions of the more correct science of the moderns. To distinguish it from pantheistic systems, it will be necessary to give some idea of these; characterizing each in the fewest words possible.
derived from a too exclusive study of the phenomena of life. The first is the pantheism of the Buddists, and perhaps very generally of the modern democratic French philosophy, which carries all existence back to universal negation, and infinite night. The second has its defenders among the Brahmins, and some modern To begin, then, with the pantheism of poets, who confound the Divine Energy Spinoza. In this system of ideas we find with Life Energy, and reduce all things to in the first place, all substance, and all the a chaos of impulses. This last system powers of nature, comprehended in a di- seems to be peculiarly a growth of imagivine unity, and created of one essence nation, as the other is of understanding. with it-nay, totally confounded with it. God is everything, and everything is in and of Deity. Now, of this scheme, we observe; first, that the author of it does not provide for the separate being of souls, beings, profound sources, reason, and the rest. These are only certain forms of one universal substance, out of which also were derived the atoms of matter and the principles of life.
The Understanding, upon which this idea is begotten by speculative reason, being itself of a negative character, dealing, indeed, solely in negations, cannot work outside the region of necessitated matter, nor by any striving enter into that of life, much less into that of souls; and is limited to the final conception of a certain absolute nothing-the "Ancient Night"| of primeval theology.
The next species of Pantheism, and which was an almost universal attendant of heathenism, refers all things, Reason and the soul included, to an UNIVERSAL LIFE, or self-willed principle-which produces Beings and Existences by resolving itself into them-by "hatching" them within itself.
This is the physiological pantheism of the inferior Brahmins. The pantheism of Spinoza, arising upon an exclusive contemplation of the laws of matter and mechanism, is thus strongly in contrast with
By a skillful use of the understanding, a faculty which will be found on the strictest examination to deal only in lines, limits, relations, and generally in the negative class of abstractions; a modern philosopher, Kant, has shown, in his critic of Pure Reason, that it produces nothing, makes no positive additions to truth, establishes no premises, and finally proves nothing without the aid of certain premises or assumptions furnished by Reason or experience. By demolishing the pretensions of the old logic, which made as though it would increase the quantity of truth by working over and over the same meager abstractions, or assumptions, this philosopher cleared the ground for the restoration of the true and only philosophy of Reason.
He had shown that the understanding is a merely analytical organ of the intelligence; that it does not furnish any thing; that it is an organ used merely to analyze, to classify, to show the necessary relations of things and events. He separated and defined the modes of its operations, in the various conceptions of cause, and of concurrence; of a substance and its properties; in numbers and in geometrical relations; in the abstract conceptions of time, space, and substance; and concluded by demonstrating, that our know
ledge of right and wrong, of good and evil, &c. proceeds neither from imagination, experience, nor understanding, but from a higher source, which he did not attempt to characterize or define. He was content simply to indicate its existence.
Kant also showed that no reliance can be placed on experience, or in other words, on the use of perception, for the proof of any absolute truth. That either absolute truth was a nonentity, and quite impossible, or it must be attained by some other process than the working of mere understanding upon experience. Every empirical conclusion, that is to say, every conclusion from experience, he showed must have its exceptions; and that no man can know when it may happen to him, that the best experience of his life may be bettered by farther experience. Nothing in regard to right and wrong can be demonstrated, unless we admit the existence of a faculty for it, lying in the superior mind. This faculty, or power, may be named Reason.
Just as the eye is sensible to light, and light itself is also an affection of the eye; and if certain properties had not been communicated to the eye, light would not have been perceived; so the properties of objects would not give rise to the perceptions of things and events, had not the organ of perception, and that of understanding, been internally fitted for their several functions.
But things and events in the mental organ itself, are a mere image, and not the real outside things and events. Just as the physiological effect of light is not the same with that mechanical light, or cause of light, which lies in luminous objects. The ideas of events and things formed in the mind, belong to the subject—that is, to the mind itself; when on the contrary, the perceptive and understanding faculties are actually engaged with nature, when the eye sees, the ear hears, the perception receives,and the understanding kens things and events, looking as it were into nature, and nature penetrating into them, the effects of all things entering so together into the soul, as to create there lively images, which move with the objects. As images in the came-. ra move with the movement of their external objects, there is then a vital and effective communication between the soul and nature, through the joint functions of perceiving and knowing: and this is the
objective condition, as distinguished from the meditative or subjective.
The subjective condition, again, is when we meditate with a consciousness that our ideas are not real, but proceed from our own interior selves.
Again; when we meditate on the perception of an object, we find that we are engaged with images, only, lying in the organs of perception. The organs of perception, when in a healthy state, have images in them only while the senses are in connection with external nature; it is with these images that the thinking and meditative faculty has to content itself.
If the reader will weigh the matter patiently in his mind, he may perhaps, by this distinction of Subject and Object, understand the most difficult things. To recapitalate:
1. The real outside things and events of nature, produce certain effects of light, color, touch, &c., upon the bodily senses.
2. These effects, though they pass in through separate channels of sense, are reunited into perfect images of things and events by the organs of perception.
3. The various images thus formed in perception, are the materials upon which understanding and imagination exercise their powers, and from which they abstract their ideals, their experiences, their fancies, and their memories.
The perception perceives mediately, through the various organs of sense; so that, for example, in looking at a ball of gold, there enters into the eye, not gold, but a yellow color; and in touching it, the sense receives, not gold, but a certain heaviness, &c., &c., and the reunion of these sensuous properties in the perception, gives a notion of a ball of gold as a thing, and of its motion as an event. Both the thing and the event, as images, lie merely in perception, just as the image of the moon, and not the moon itself, lies in the eye. Kant's conclusion from this train of reasoning, was, that we do not ken or perceive things in themselves-we do not understand or know, or get abstract notions of the moon, but only of an image of the moon, formed in perception-we do not understand motions of bodies, but only images of such motions formed in the perception.
Nevertheless, by an exercise of another and quite superior faculty, a faculty of de
termining relations, we know that the mental image must correspond with its objects; we therefore act upon the evidences of sense as true; and are thus kept in active and constant relation with the unknown real world about us.
Our animal faculty of perception presents images of things and events as they pass before us.
At the same time our understanding shows us that the course and order of these things and events is governed by certain laws, and orderly recurrences. The abstract laws appearing to the understanding, correspond with certain real laws, existing in nature; for, if things in nature agree with IMAGES in perception, laws in nature agree with LAWs in understanding.
It is necessary here to observe, that Kant does not advance this proof. He contents himself with showing that the so called "laws of nature," are in understanding; but he did not seem to perceive that their existence in nature also, is demonstrable by the same argument which shows the existence of real things in nature; an argument which he, himself, was the first to use among the moderns.
[ of Intellect, forms true ideals of human beings, or of persons really existing. And it follows, that the proofs for the existence of human souls, and human persons, are of presicely the same character and validity with those for the existence of wood, stone or metal, or of any object or motion in nature.
It is truly astonishing, that the philosopher who discovered this method of proving the existence of things, (the only one of the least value,) and who applied it to idea of material objects and events, should never have pushed its application to that of rational beings.
One of the most satisfactory results of this method of reasoning, is that it precludes all discussion concerning the existence of things. Things do exist, most indubitably, in the mind; so do laws of nature, and ideas of souls, and all as beings of the mind merely; but when it is perceived that they have a practical efficacy, when it is seen that by Reason we converse, and receive answers through our senses, corresponding with the ideas to which we gave utterance, a necessity forces us to believe in the existence of other beTo carry this argument a step higher. ings like ourselves. And when, carrying The superior Reason, which is able, as out certain cogitated laws, we cause the every one knows, to make use both of un- powers of nature to serve us by those laws, derstanding and imagination at the same a necessity arises for believing that these time; that Power, finding in Imagination "laws of nature" in the mind, stand for certain images of life, force, power, beauty, laws of real nature without. And when, &c., and in understanding certain laws, and perceiving the color of an object, we put necessities; will, by the union of both, at- forth the finger and feel its hardness, we tain the ideas of rational beings existing conclude with certainty, that the image in out of itself; in other words, it will attain the perception, of a thing possessing hardto a knowledge of creatures like itself, liv-ness, is the proof of the presence of a ing out of itself. Ideas indeed of an immensely abstract and elavated order-but which are so necessary to us, one person cannot speak rationally to another except through the possession of them.
Thus it is found, that as the knowledge of the existence of things and events in nature, is through a perception which reassembles and combines the sensuous impressions from things; as the existence of laws of nature," and of qualities of beauty and grace, comes through understanding and imagination, forming abstractions, which are the counterparts of certain otherwise unknown realities in nature; so the Reason, assembling together, the images and abstractions given to it by those powers
something in nature. The mind, of course, in these natural operations, must be sound and healthy, and not metaphysically or otherwise disjointed.
The expression used by Kant, that we know nothing of the nature of "things in themselves," is meant only to convey the fact that all our knowledge is of a secondary character, and not, as Divinity may be supposed to know itself, by being the same with itself. The image in the mind is not the real thing out of the mind.
How the mind is able to form this idea of things and events as they are in, and the same as they are out of the mind, is perhaps the most curious and instructive part of the speculation. For, we have