Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

a

between the result of theory and fact must generally be at rest even before the hypothesis is hazarded, and the only question is as to identity, which in this case is very difficult to decide. It seems to us that there is no branch of science where the inductive process is so requisite, where so much care is required in grasping the true phenomenon to be accounted for, unmutilated and unchanged, and where there is so much difficulty in doing it, as that of mental and moral philosophy: since here the deductive process, which generally keeps off erroneous conclusions in other inquiries, is but little safeguard. This decision of Mr. Mill, as to the future progress of mental sciences, is more inconsistent in him, because he takes a very high ground, not, we think, always tenable, as to the tests of hypotheses. He says (Vol. II. c. xiv. p. 23) of a hypothetical law, that it is no argument whatever in favour of it that it should predict new results, before unknown, which turn out to be true; because if the analogy extends far enough to warrant its assumption at all, it is almost equally likely to extend further than at first perceived, and suggest new truths. What is here said as to a hypothetical law is equally true of a law established by induction, if that induction be insufficient and be applied to cases quite different from those for which it was made ; and this is the case, as it seems to us, with almost all the generalizations of our present psychology; moreover, the test of predicting new truths by deduction is one scarcely applicable to a science of human nature, where almost all truths are empirical long before they are deduced, and where artificial experiment for peculiar cases is quite impossible.

Here we must bring this very insufficient though lengthened survey of some of the principal questions of Inductive Philosophy to a conclusion. It is a somewhat presumptuous, and not an easy task, to criticise so able a thinker as Mr. Mill, especially when his writings appear to have quite subdued the not very independent spirit of English philosophy. The prolonged silence with which his book has been received by English critics seems to imply a surrender without terms; and in fact the qualities of Mr. Mill's mind are eminently calculated to impress and frighten our countrymen into silence, even when unconvinced. The dread of mysticism in this country, or even of the mere

a

imputation of assuming anything that is not capable of proof, is almost morbid, and Mr. Mill's quiet contempt for any superfluity of belief is likely enough to intimidate, even where his arguments do not overwhelm. And in truth even the extreme of incredulity is more tolerable in philosophy than the tendency to admit without the strictest examination, as foreign philosophers so often do, that any psychological fact is ultimate. Still the theoretical results of the incredulous school are often more astonishing, and this, by far the ablest statement of what may be called the multum-in-parvo school of philosophy, constantly seems to us rather to create than deduce its conclusions. Valuable as Mr. Mill's book is, we do not think that even the Logic of Induction (by far its most important and, in our estimation, its least erroneous part) has received from him a really permanent form, since the principles of symmetric arrangement seldom or never reveal themselves, while the fundamental assumptions of a science remain erroneous or unfixed.

ART. V.- RECENT POETRY: KINGSLEY; TRENCH;

BURBIDGE AND CLOUGH.

1. The Saint's Tragedy, or the true Story of Elizabeth of

Hungary, Landgravine of Thuringia, Saint of the Romish
Calendar. By Charles Kingsley, Jun., Rector of
Eversley. With a Preface by Professor Maurice.

London: John W. Parker, West Strand. 2. The Story of Justin Martyr ; Sabbation ; and other Poems.

By Richard Chenevix Trench. London : Edward

Moxon, Dover Street. 3. Poems from Eastern Sources. By Richard Chenevix

Trench. 4. Ambarvalia-Poems. By Thomas Burbidge and Arthur

H. Clough. London : Chapman and Hall, 186,
Strand. F. Macpherson, Oxford.

It has always seemed to us an assertion the most false and untenable, that as science extends its discoveries, the province of poetry must contract. As the theology of some would reduce the Deity to a great First Cause, not the immanent Spirit of all things,-would designate Him the original Creator rather than the all-sustainer,—and in every new-found law of the material world, find a fresh link in the tremendous chain that severs us from God Himselfthe first of the great series—so the philosophy of others, following hard upon the same track, and by a mode of reasoning that we are unable to comprehend, has found likewise, in the increasing empire of scientific truth, a highway of banishment for the divine inspiration of the poet. What there can be in the recognition of a beautiful consistency, an harmonious order, characterizing this vast universe of nature as the natural expression of the changeless and ever-active will of the Great Supreme, to limit the sources or confine the action of poetic genius, we cannot even surmise, although we have often heard it confidently stated, that as Science advances, Poetry must retire; as the one spreads her dominion, the other must gradually

a

shrink away, till Science having acomplished her work, and revealed to the world every secret of creation, gazes over her vast domains, sole monarch of the mind—beholding not even the last point of space from which she has finally dislodged the spirit that once delighted and enraptured man. The theory seems to have arisen from an idea (partially true) that Poetry draws its vitality from the sphere of the unknown. Now though we believe that all the sublimest poetry of man is connected more or less with the mysterious, it is certainly not the case that all true poetry must owe its interest to its choice of topics above our human comprehension. There is a vast deal of descriptive poetry, of a high order, that concerns itself only with the beautiful hings of this visible earth-hill and valley, and lake, and storm, curling vapour, and floating cloud-and though there should be a sense of the mysterious in the mind of the describing poet—a feeling of reverential wonder at the beauty or grandeur he would paint (the sources and continuous existence of which he cannot comprehend), still he is not necessarily conscious of this; at all events he does not necessarily give expression to the feeling, and as he deals with visual phenomena familiar to all, every one can see the power of the poet and the fidelity of his pen, and many would confess it who had no idea that there might be in his mind something more than a mere perception of the beautiful and sublime: there might be or there might not. The pleasure we derive from the purely descriptive poetry of Sir Walter Scott depends upon its faithfulness to the real beauties described, and perhaps to that infusion of the imaginative and the romantic, which leave the mind so much to fill up for itself; and though it may be said that his poems, like his stories, owe something of their interest to the author's love of the marvellous, it can hardly be maintained that he deals much with the mysterious. Byron, too, one of the most vivid describers of Nature's beautiful and sublime features that can be cited, deals for the most part directly with the known, the visible and tangible, and not with the hidden powers beyond our reach. How did advancing Science affect his genius ? Would he have written more or better, had its discoveries been fewer? We can see no reason why. But then we confess we hold mere descriptive poetry to belong decidedly

CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 47.

ز

to the lowest class, and it is certainly true that as we rise thence to a higher and a higher, we find ourselves approaching nearer and nearer to a conviction of the fact, that the poetical is largely based on the mysterious. At the same time, the truth is not one that will be always realised; for when we come to dramatic poetry, though now and then (as in the case of Hamlet) the mysteries of life are distinctly recognised, few would call the vivid delineation of fine characters by Shakspere or Schiller, poetry that dealt directly with the mysterious and unknown. We do not say that this opinion would be strictly correct; for in the play of human affections, in the fluctuation of human feelings, in the inconsistencies of human character, there lies as deep a mystery as can well be found. The life of the spirit is indeed a hidden life; but still this mystery is one with which all are so familiar, consciously or unconsciously, that if it is not brought prominently forward by the dramatist, his works are not supposed to depend for their interest and vitality on their reference to things unseen and unsearchable. Nor is it so, indeed, more than incidentally. He may take his observations entirely from without; his instincts may give him free admission into the characters of men, and though nothing is more strange and inexplicable than this intuitive sympathy, the mysterious means by which his knowledge was obtained does not necessarily impress his own mind, nor will it appear upon the face of his productions. Here then is poetry dealing with the actual and familiar, rather than with the mysterious and unknown; and yet this is one of the most fruitful spheres of exercise for the divine art, and though really concerned with the deep secrets of human nature, and setting forth the strange varieties of human thought and feeling, purpose and disposition, is, to all appearance, treating of those manifest relations of life which owe their interest, not to our ignorance of the laws of mind which the progress of metaphysical science has in some degree dispelled, and may dispel yet further, but to human sympathies and affections, which never change from age to age. When, therefore, it is said, that the existence of poetry is only compatible with limited knowledge, the statement can by no means receive our assent; for it seems to ignore the fact that half our finest Poets deal

« AnkstesnisTęsti »