« AnteriorContinuar »
transcendental of its expressions; and how Blake at once, with fellow-insight to Wordsworth's, fastened in an almost hysterical rapture' on the very words which the reader justly regarded as the central clue to the poet's magnificent creation :
• But there's a tree, of many, one,
The pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Where is it now, the glory and the dream ?' It is, indeed, no marvel that these words impressed Blake. They are the expression of that imaginative impulse, of that spiritual insight, which he was rarely able himself to embody in such perfect form. They also are words which—and this though the words of the calmest and most philosophical of our modern poets-the world might easily misconstrue into exaggeration or folly. Blake is a wild enthusiast, is not he?' we read that Mr. Cary, the translator of Dante, said about this time before Charles Lamb and Flaxman. •Ever loyal to his friend, the sculptor drew himself up, half-offended, saying, “Some think me an enthusiast.”
Our last extracts are from the letter of Mr. Samuel Palmer, already alluded to. It seems to us, on the whole, the closest and wisest judgment preserved on Blake :
' In him you saw at once the maker, the Inventor. He was energy itself, and shed around him a kindling influence, an atmosphere of life, full of the ideal. To walk with him in the country was to perceive the soul of beauty through the forms of matter. . . . He was a man without a inask; his aim single, his path straight forwards, and his wants few; so he was free, noble, and happy. His eye was the finest I ever saw; brilliant, but not roving; clear and intent, yet susceptible; it flashed with genius, or melted in tenderness. Nor was the mouth less expressive; the lips flexible, and quivering with feeling. I can yet recall it when, on one occasion, dwelling upon the exquisite beauty of the Parable of the Prodigal, he began to repeat a part of it; but at the words when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, he could go no further; his voice faltered, and he was in tears.'
A saying of Blake's on art is in exact correspondence with the fine sensitiveness here displayed. Do you work in fear and trembling ? 'he asked of a student who came to him for advice. Indeed I do, Sir.' • Then you'll do!' was the reply.
The same unity of character and simple persistence in his straightforward course mark the dying hours of the good and
noble old man, Aug. 12th, 1827. It probably was within a very short distance from his own death that Mr. Gilchrist wrote this chapter of his work, and we think he has touched the tale with much skill and tenderness. The last anecdote is well known.
For one of the friends who watched by his bedside the dying artist coloured with his utmost skill that magnificent design of the Ancient of Days,' which may well bear comparison with the sublimity of Milton and Michel Angelo. After he had frequently touched upon it, and frequently held it at a distance, he threw it from him, and, with an air of exultation, exclaimed, “There, that will do ; I cannot mend it!'
Whilst he said these words his glance fell on his loving Kate, now no longer young, but who had lived with him in these and like humble rooms in hourly companionship, ever-ready helpfulness, and reverent sympathy for now forty-five years. As his eyes rested on the once-graceful form, the thought of all she had been to him in these years filled Blake's mind. “Stay, Kate !' he cried, “keep as you are !-you have ever been an angel to me!'—and his last work was her likeness.
Art. II.-1. Historia de Animalibus, Gr. et Lat., Jul. Cæsare
Scaligero interprete, cum ejusdem commentariis. Ed. Phil.
J. Maussacus.' Tolosa, 1619. Folio. 2. Histoire des Animaux d'Aristote, avec la Traduction Françoise.
Par M. Camus, à Paris. 2 vols. 4to. 1783. 3. Aristotelis de Animalibus Historiæ, Libri X. Gr. et Lat. Ed.
J. G. Schneider. 4 vols. 8vo. Lipsiæ, 1811. 4. Aristoteles Naturgeschichte der Thiere, übersetst und mit
Anmerkungen begleitet, von Dr. Friedrich Strack, Frankfurt am Main. 8vo. 1816.
5. Aristoteles Thiergeschiclite, in zehn Büchern ; Uebersetst und
erläubert, von Dr. Ph. H. Külb. Stuttgart, 1856. 6. Aristotle's History of Animals, in Ten Books. Translated by
Richard Cresswell, M. A., St. John's College, Oxford.
London: Henry G. Bohn, 1862. 7. Aristotle; a Chapter from the History of Science, including
analyses of Aristotle's Scientific Writings. London, 1864. OOLOGY, like every other branch of physical science,
is in its nature essentially progressive. First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear,' is a law no less in philosophy than in nature. Ever since the Creation the intellectual mind of man has been acquiring fresh stores of knowledge, generally, indeed, by slow and laborious steps, sometimes by rapid strides, as here and there some master mind has succeeded in moulding into some well-defined form the results of previous discoveries. Each succeeding generation inherits some valuable patrimony bequeathed to it by the speculations or discoveries of a former age,• For I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widend with the process of the suns. • The physical sciences are, commonly, not formed by one single act,' as Dr. Whewell has well said, they are not completed by the discovery of one great-principle; on the contrary, they consist in a long continued advance, a series of changes, a repeated progress from one principle to another, different and often apparently contradictory.' The torch of science, that burns in these days with a full and clear but continually increasing light, emitted for ages an unsteady flickering glare; at certain epochs it was fanned by the breath of some pre-eminently endowed inind--aliquo afflatu divino—into a clearer but still a transient flame, again perhaps for centuries to smoulder with an all but extinguished fire; yet he who now from the lofty pinnacle of the temple of science surveys with just pride the vast field, rich in promises for the future, which opens to his view, and fails to bear in mind the labours of those who, in ages past, have helped to rear the scaffolding or to build the fabric, commits a grave mistake indeed. “The final form of each science'—we quote again the words of Dr. Whewell_contains the substance of each of its preceding modifications; and all that was at any antecedent period discovered and established ministers to the ultimate development of its proper branch of knowledge.'t
These remarks apply, it is true, more particularly, though not
*History of the Inductive Sciences,' i. p. 9.
† Ibid., p. 10.
exclusively, to what we understand by positive science ; that is to say, to that method of inductive reasoning, by which from our knowledge of one or more particular facts we infer the general law of any phenomenon ; but at the same time we ought also to take into account the various speculations that have emanated from disciples of the metaphysical schools of ancient Greece, which, though doubtless generally barren in results, have still contributed something to the general fund. It is very curious to note how the physical theories of the ancients occasionally coincide with the discoveries of modern science, and who can say that their ‘guesses at truth'--for they were generally nothing -more-have not had some real though unrecognised influence in directing the minds of future generations to the investigation of those laws which they have successfully determined. All those who have any conviction in the steady development of humanity,' a thoughtful writer has admirably remarked, “and believe in a direct filiation of ideas, will at once admit that the curious but erroneous speculations of the Greeks were necessary to the production of modern science.'* It would be easy to adduce instances in which the ancient philosophers, by some fortuitous speculation, appear to have anticipated modern discovery ; their theories, however, for the most part, rested on no foundation; they were simply guesses, their authors were quite unable to prove their truth. Democritus, it is said, maintained that the milky-way was only a cluster of stars. He was quite right, but he could not know the fact. The telescope of Galileo revealed it. The atomism of the philosopher of Abdera is identical with the Monadologie of Leibnitz, and although unquestionably distinct from the true atomic theory of Dalton and the moderns—the former being the affirmation of indefinite combinations, the latter the law of definite proportions'—it may perhaps be considered to contain its germ. † The principle of the astronomic system of Copernicus was foreshadowed by Philolaus and other disciples of the school of Pythagoras, for they considered the sun to be fixed, and attributed a motion to the earth.
All natural science, and indeed science of every kind, is to be referred,' as the learned German historian of Botany has remarked, to the mingling together of two distinct sources, the observation of facts, and speculation upon the facts observed,' or to use the language of Whewell, $ we may say that to the formation of science two things are requisite-facts and ideas; observation of things without, and an inward effort of thought, or in
* Biographical History of Philosophy,' by G. H. Lewes, i. p. 12. # Ibid., p. 153. | Ernst H. F. Meyer, Geschichte der Botanik,' i. p. 3. $ History of the Inductive Sciences,' i. pp. 6, 7.
other words sense and reason. Neither of these elements, by itself, can constitute substantial general knowledge. The impressions of sense, unconnected by some rational and speculative principle, can only end in a practical acquaintance with individual objects; the operations of the rational faculties, on the other hand, if allowed to go on without a constant reference to external things, can lead only to empty abstraction and barren ingenuity. Real speculative knowledge demands the combination of the two ingredients-right reason, and facts to reason upon.
In the early ages of the world we may say without hesitation that there was no science in the true sense of the term. Knowledge for the simple sake of knowledge had no existence. Of speculative philosophy there is scarcely a trace to be found before the time of Thales, who may fairly be looked upon as the father of Greek speculation. It was the Greeks, moreover, who first developed this habit of mind; they first separated the speculative from the practical tendencies of mankind.' Amongst the Shemitic nations barely a vestige of the scientific spirit is to be seen before the middle ages when the Arabs began to cultivate it, but it was not indigenous to the Oriental mind. Arabian science was essentially Greek, and borrowed from Aristotle and others of the metaphysical school of Greece.
The striking generalization of a modern philosopher, which has received the sanction of writers so eminent as Grote, Mill, and Lewes, is certainly very applicable to the development of the mind of the ancient Greek philosopher. According to these authors there are three distinct and characteristic stages which history reveals to us in man's attempts to explain natural phenomena ; these stages have been named the supernatural, the metaphysical, and the positive. In the supernatural stage, to borrow the words of Mr. G. H. Lewes, man explains phenomena by some fanciful conception suggested by the analogies of his own consciousness. Nature is regarded as the theatre whereon the arbitrary wills and momentary caprices of superior powers play their varying and variable parts. Men are startled at unusual occurrences, and explain them by fanciful conceptions. A solar eclipse is understood, and unerringly predicted to a moment by positive science; but in the supernatural epoch it was believed that some dragon had swallowed the sun!' In the metaphysical stage man explains phenomena by some à priori conception of inherent or superadded entities, suggested by the constancy observable in phenomena, which constantly leaves him to suspect that they are not produced by any intervention on the part of an external being, but are owing to the nature of the things them