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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. This system must then be somehow connected with, and made to depend upon, the undeniable facts of consciousness and experience, and 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 up 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. Îts 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 acceptance 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.
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
And it is through such delineations only that the lessons of history move the conscience, impress the moral
pensing wholly with capital punishment, and with results so satisfactory, that we are astonished at the little prominence given to them in recent discussions of that subject in our own country. Deeming it important that such facts should meet every eye, at the risk of multiplying quotations to excess, we transfer to our pages the following paragraphs from his valedictory charge to the Grand Jury of Bombay.
“Since my arrival here, in May, 1804, the punishment of death has not been inflicted by this Court. Now the population subject to our jurisdiction, either locally or personally, cannot be estimated at less than two hundred thousand persons. Whether any evil consequence has yet arisen from so unusual and in the British dominions unexampled - a circumstance as the disuse of capital punishment, for so long a period as seven years, among a population so considerable, is a question which you are entitled to ask, and to which I have the means of affording you a satisfactory answer.
“ The criminal records go back to the year 1756. From May, 1756, to May, 1763, the capital convictions amounted to one hundred and forty-one; and the executions were forty-seven. The annual average of persons who suffered death was almost seven ; and the annual average of capital crimes ascertained to have been perpetrated was nearly twenty. From May, 1804, to May, 1811, there have been one hundred and nine capital convictions. The annual average, therefore, of capital crimes, legally proved to have been perpetrated during that period, is between fifteen and sixteen. During this period there has been no capital execution. But as the population of this island has much more than doubled during the last fifty years, the annual average of capital convictions during the last seven years ought to have been forty, in order to show the same proportion of criminality with that of the first seven years. Between 1756 and 1763, the military force was comparatively small : a few factories or small ports only depended on this government. Between 1804 and 1811,
five hundred European officers, and probably four thousand European soldiers, were scattered over extensive territories. Though honor and morality be powerful aids of law with respect to the first class, and military discipline with respect to the second, yet it might have been expected, as experience has proved, that the more violent enormities would be perpetrated by the European soldiery, - uneducated and sometimes depraved as many of them must originally be, often in a state of mischievous idleness, — commanding, in spite of all care, the means of intoxication, and corrupted by contempt for the feelings and rights of