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stage, and subjected often to a provokingly brief examination, we are in almost every instance made, not only aware of the strong or weak points of the system, but sensible of the moral aura of the man, so that, without any ostensible delineation of character, a few undesigned traits often compel us to love the man in spite of his system, or dispose us to withhold from the man the favor with which we are constrained to regard the philosopher. Now this very habit of viewing and presenting subjects in the concrete eminently fitted him to be the historian of mental and moral science, and make us regret that he had not devoted a solid portion of his life to a task, of which the part that he has executed (while far inferior to German works of the kind in profoundness and parade of learning) is unrivalled in perspicuity, vivacity, and soundness of judgment.
The history of opinions ought to be, more than it generally is, the history of men. Their social environments and moral tendencies and habits are, in numerous instances, the sole causes of their opinions, — their reasonings mere afterthoughts fabricated when called for. The process by which systems innumerable have been brought to the light has been somewhat as follows. An intelligent and cultivated man finds himself in a certain position, in which it is for his interest and pleasure to remain, and in which it is essential that he should at once fortify himself in his own esteem and present to others the show of self-consistency. He first generalizes the habits or necessities of his place, and throws them out in the form of aphoristic maxims, thus intimating that his life is underlaid by principle. These maxims soon grow numerous, and clash when confronted with each other, so that their author finds himself obliged to demonstrate their mutual compatibility, and to fuse their incongruities into a system. must then be somehow connected with, and made to depend upon, the undeniable facts of consciousness and experience,
the fallacies of scholastic logic offer themselves to be braided and twisted into a halter of the requisite dimensions. Hobbes's philosophy can be accounted for only on this ground. Had he not been through life the passive protégé and pensioner of kings and earls, he could not have conceived of a system so thick-sown with self-contradictions and absurdities. His problem was, to legitimate his sycophancy and man-worship to his own consciousness, and to render himself not altogether contemptible to his coevals and to posterity. His entire
theory of the spiritual universe is neither more nor less than a magnificent apology for the facts of his own personal history. This is but one of the many cases in which the man has made the philosopher, and in which, to destroy the prestige that hangs about the philosopher, one has only to unmask the
The same endowments, which fitted Mackintosh so well to be the historian of ethical science, prepared him to excel in biography; and we regret that he attempted so little in this department. His Life of Sir Thomas More is perfect in its kind. It tells the whole story of the old Chancellor with the utmost simplicity and directness, challenging the warmest admiration for his integrity, contentment, and fortitude, admitting with candor his weaknesses and faults, keeping the author himself in the background, forbearing all irrelevant rhetoric and impertinent discussion, and, wherever it is possible, letting Sir Thomas himself or his near kindred take
the thread of the narrative. It is precisely one of those sketches which would win the smallest amount of panegyric for the author, because it keeps the subject perpetually before the eye, as through a transparent medium, and the art of doing this and concealing the painter's hand is too exquisite for general appreciation. Nor is justice done to biography of this class by transferring extracts to the pages of a review ; for a paragraph furnishes as good a specimen of it as a brick of a house. Its beauty consists in its symmetry as a whole, and in the coherency, unity, and truthfulness of its impression on the reader. It is not, therefore, for the sake of justifying our verdict on the biographer, nor yet because we suppose many of our readers ignorant of the beautiful developments of More's character, when, under his monarch's displeasure, he descended by rapid grades from the Great Seal to the Tower and the block; but it is because we love to renew and repeat any record of the great and godlike in man, that we quote the following paragraphs.
"At the time of his resignation, More asserted, and circumstances, without reference to his character, demonstrate the truth of his assertion, that his whole income, independent of grants from the crown, did not amount to more than £ 50 yearly. This was not more than an eighth part of his gains at the bar and his judicial salary from the city of London taken together ; so great was the proportion in which his fortune had declined during eighteen
years of employment in offices of such trust, advantage, and honor. In this situation the clergy voted, as a testimonial of their gratitude to him, the sum of £ 5000, which, according to the rate of interest at that time, would have yielded him £ 500 a year, being ten times the yearly sum which he could then call his own. But good and honorable as he knew their messengers, of whom Tunstall was one, to be, he declared, that he would rather cast their money into the sea than take it'; not speaking from a boastful pride, most foreign from his nature, but shrinking with a sort of instinctive delicacy from the touch of money, even before he considered how much the acoeptance of the gift might impair his usefulness.
“ His resources were of a nobler nature. The simplicity of his tastes, and the moderation of his indulgences, rendered retrenchment a task so easy to himself, as to be scarcely perceptible in his personal habits. His fool or jester, then a necessary part of a great man's establishment, he gave to the lord mayor for the time being. His first care was to provide for his attendants, by placing his gentlemen and yeomen with peers and prelates, and his eight watermen in the service of his successor, Sir T. Audley, to whom he gave his great barge, one of the most indispensable appendages of his office in an age when carriages were unknown. His sorrows were for separation from those whom he loved. He called together his children and grandchildren, who had hitherto lived in peace and love under his patriarchal roof, and, lamenting that he could not, as he was wont, and as he gladly would, bear out the whole charges of them all himself, so that they might continue living together as they were wont, he prayed them to give him their counsel on this trying occasion. When he saw them silent, and unwilling to risk their opinion, he gave them his, seasoned with his natural gayety, and containing some strokes illustrative of the state of society at that time :
I have been brought up,' quoth he, ' at Oxford, at an inn of chancery, at Lincoln's Inn, and also in the king's court, from the lowest degree to the highest, and yet I have at present left me little above £ 100 a year' (including the king's grants); so that now, if we like to live together, we must be content to be contributaries together; but we must not fall to the lowest fare first: we will begin with Lincoln's Inn diet, where many right worshipful and of good years do live full well; which if we find not ourselves the first year able to maintain, then will we the next year go one step to New Inn fare: if that year exceed our ability, we will the next year descend to Oxford fare, where many grave, learned, and ancient fathers are continually conversant. If our ability stretch not to maintain either, then may we yet with bags and wallets go a beg.. VOL. LXVI. NO. 139.
pp. 72, 73.
ging together, and hoping for charity at every man's door, to sing Salve regina ; and so still keep company and be merry together. On the Sunday following his resignation, he stood at the door of his wife's pew in the church, where one of his dismissed gentlemen had been used to stand, and making a low obeisance to Alice as she entered, said to her with perfect gravity, — Madam, my lord is gone.' He, who for seventeen years had not raised his voice in displeasure, could not be expected to sacrifice the gratification of his innocent merriment to the heaviest blows of fortune.
“ Nor did he at fit times fail to prepare his beloved children for those more cruel strokes which he began to foresee. Discoursing with them, he enlarged on the happiness of suffering, for the love of God, the loss of goods, of liberty, of lands, of life. He would further say unto them, that if he might perceive his wife and children would encourage him to die in a good cause, it should so comfort him, that for very joy, it would make him run merrily to death.'
Mackintosh has succeeded beyond most writers in imparting to history the glow and charm of biography. He does this in two ways. In the first place, he personifies and individuates the nation of which he treats, ascribing to it a continuous and homogeneous moral life, corresponding to the average of its moral developments, and enabling us to trace its pervading impulses, currents, and tendencies, as we might the motives and principles of an individual man. Where this art is wanting, history may be minute and accurate to the last degree, and yet be utterly uninstructive. It is of little consequence that we know the separate forces that act upon the complex person called the nation, unless we can see them combined and discern the actual direction of their resultant. For facts, mere annals or a file of newspapers would be the best authority. The true history must borrow from the drama its symmetry, from the epic its succinct and unincumbered progress, and unity from both. Then, again, Mackintosh substitutes biography for history, wherever it can be truthfully and gracefully done. He describes an era or epoch, so far as may be, by its representative men.
There is hardly a portion of history that does not admit of being thus written ; for there are always men who are types of their times, and the prime agents or central objects of all leading movements and events. And it is through such delineations only that the lessons of history move the conscience, impress the moral
nature, and lay the foundation for practical wisdom. In both the regards that we have named, the Review of the Causes of the Revolution of 1688 might be taken as an almost faultless specimen of history. It was a period adapted to tax the writer's skill to the utmost, so many were the coexistent or successive cliques and cabals, so rapidly did the phases both of the court and the people vary, and so numerous were the prominent actors who crossed, thwarted, and supplanted each other, during the entire reign of James II. We will give but a single extract, and that shall be the brief and graphic sketch with which the infamous Jeffreys is first brought upon the stage.
James had, soon after his accession, introduced into the Cabinet Sir George Jeffreys, Lord Chief Justice of England, a person whose office did not usually lead to that station, and whose elevation to unusual honor and trust is characteristic of the government which he served. His origin was obscure, his education scanty, his acquirements no more than what his vigorous understanding gathered in the course of business, his professional practice low, and chiefly obtained from the companions of his vulgar excesses, whom he captivated by that gross buffoonery which accompanied him to the most exalted stations. But his powers of mind were extraordinary ; his elocution was flowing and spirited ; and, after his highest preferment, in the few instances where he preserved temper and decency, the native vigor of his intellect shone forth in his judgments, and threw a transient dignity over the coarseness of his deportment. He first attracted notice by turbulence in the petty contests of the Corporation of London ; and having found a way to Court through some of those who ministered to the pleasures of the king, as well as to the more ignominious of his political intrigues, he made his value known by contributing to destroy the charter of the capital of which he had been the chief law officer. His services as a counsel in the trial of Russell, and as a judge in that of Sidney, proved still more acceptable to his masters. On the former occasion, he caused a person who had collected evidence for the defence to be turned out of court, for making private suggestions - probably important to the ends of justice – to Lady Russell, while she was engaged in her affecting duty. The same brutal insolence shown in the trial of Sidney was, perhaps, thought the more worthy of reward, because it was foiled by the calm heroism of that great man. The union of a powerful understanding with boisterous violence and the basest subserviency singularly fitted him to be the tool of a tyrant. He wanted, indeed, the aid of