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lepsy. But it cannot be supposed that they were improved by the disease.

It is an unhappy circumstance, that philosophy has sometimes strengthened, instead of correcting vulgar prejudices. Plato's followers, by their description* of the ev0801col@, constituted madness a sign of inspiration. To the misfortune of mankind, the ravings of lunatics have often been more regarded than the arguments of wise men; but such a preference ought not to have been sanctioned by philosophers. This must surely have been one of the exoteric doctrines, calculated only for the porters and fishwomen of Athens. No doubt, the same causes which, in a strong degree, produce madness, may in a lower encrease the natural powers of the mind. . Cardan, and a melancholy list of illustrious names, appear, in some parts of their writings, as mad as the author of Hultothrumbo, while in others they discover an extraordina

* Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philos. t, ii. p. 445,

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ry acuteness and sagacity. The popular
prophets of this country, were all really or
affectedly mad. They are now little read
or respected; but they were formerly pow-
erful engines of faction, and became the
objects of repeated acts of the legislature.
Les reves, as Voltaire says of Plato, donnoient
alors de grande reputation.
The courteous demons of antiquity have
vanished, but they have left a kind of magic
splendor over the heads of men of talents,
which the herd of metaphysicians has beheld

If a person of unassisted good sense were to enquire, what constitutes a man of genius, he would discover it to be a vigorous and successful exertion of the mind, on some particular subject, or a general alacrity and facility of intellectual labour. In a word, that genius consists in the power of doing best, what


endeavour to do well.

In the best treatises on this subject, there has been much of a fallacious method, which imposes equally on the author and the

with awe.

reader; I mean, a prolix description of facts, substituted for a theory of their causes. Undoubtedly this kind of writing would be useful, if it were appreciated at its just value; but its facility, and its pretensions create prejudices against the more slow and difficult method of induction. Moliere has characterized this false philosophy by a single stroke: “ Quare facit opium dormire ?Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva.” Behold the fruit of many a huge and thorny metaphysical quarto!


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