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does not exist. The case is clear; the only difficulty is, to know whether we shall believe it or not.”

“And how," asked Uncle Tim, “is all this to be found out ?"

“By digging down to the first principles," answered the Doctor.

“Ay," interrupted Malachi, our laboring man, “there is nothing equal to the spade and pickaxe."

5. “That is true," said my grandfather, going on in Malachi's way; " 'tis by digging for the foundation that we shall find out whether the world exists or not; for, if we dig to the bottom of the earth and find a foundation—why then we are sure of it. But if we find no foundation, it is clear that the world stands upon nothing, or, in other words, that it does not stand at all; therefore, it stands to reason—"

“I beg your pardon," interrupted the Doctor, “but you totally mistake me; I use the word digging metaphorically, meaning the profoundest cogitation and research into the nature of things. That is the way in which we may ascertain whether things are or whether they are not.”

6. “But if a man can't believe his eyes,” said Uncle Tim, “what signifies talking about it?"

“Our eyes,” said the Doctor, “ are nothing at all but the inlets of sensation, and when we see a thing, all we are aware of is, that we have a sensation of it; we are not sure that the thing exists. We are sure of nothing that we see with our


“Not without spectacles," said Aunt Judy.

“ Plato, for instance, maintains that the sensation of any object is produced by a perpetual succession of copies, images, or counterfeits streaming off from the object to the organs of sensation. Descartes, too, has explained the matter upon the principle of whirligigs."

7. “But does the world exist ?” asked the schoolmaster.

“A good deal may be said on both sides,” replied the Doctor, “ though the ablest heads are for non-existence.”

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“In common cases,” said Uncle Tim, “ those who utter nonsense are considered blockheads.”

8. “But in metaphysics,” said the Doctor, “ the case is different.”

“ Now all this is hocus pocus to me,” said Aunt Judy, suspending her knitting-work, and scratching her forehead with one of the needles. “I don't understand a bit more of the business than I did at first."

10. “I'll be bound there is many a learned professor,” said Uncle Tim, “could say the same after spinning a long yarn of metaphysics.”

The Doctor did not admire this gibe at his favorite science.

“ That is as the case may be,” said he; “this thing or that thing may be dubious, but what then? Doubt is the beginning of wisdom.”


1. “No doubt of that,” said my grandfather, beginning to poke the fire, “but when a man has got through his doubting, what does he begin to build upon in a metaphysical way ?"

“Why, he begins by taking something for granted,” said the Doctor.

“But is that a sure way of going to work ?"

“ Tis the only thing he can do,” replied the Doctor, after a pause, and rubbing his forehead as if he was not altogether satisfied that his foundation was a solid one. My grandfather might have posed him with another question, but he poked the fire and let him go on.

2. “Metaphysics, to speak exactly—"

" Ah,” interrupted the schoolmaster, “ bring it down to vulgar fractions, and then we shall understand it."

6 'Tis the consideration of immateriality, or the mere spirit and essence of things.”

“Come, come,” said Aunt Judy, taking a pinch of snuff, “now I see into it."

“Thus, man is considered, not in his corporeality, but in his essence or capability of being; for a man metaphysically, or to metaphysical purposes, hath two natures, that of spirituality and that of corporeality, which may be considered separate." 3. “What man ?" asked Uncle Tim.

Why, any man ; Malachi there, for example, I may consider him as Malachi spiritual or Malachi corporal.”

“ That is true,” said Malachi, for when I was in the militia, they made me a sixteenth corporal, and I carried grog to the drummer.”

4. "That is another affair," said the Doctor, in continuation, “we speak of man in his essence; we speak also of the essence of locality, the essence of duration"

“ And essence of peppermint,” said Aunt Judy.

“Pooh!” said the Doctor, “ the essence I mean is quite a different concern."

“Something too fine to be dribbled through the worm of a still,” said my grandfather.

5. “Then I am all in the dark again,” rejoined Aunt Judy.

"By the spirit and essence of things, I mean things in the abstract."

“And what becomes of a thing when it gets in the abstract ?" asked Uncle Tim.

“Why, it becomes an abstraction.”

“ There we are again,” said Uncle Tim; “but what in the world is an abstraction ?"

6. “It's a thing that has no matter; that is, it cannot be felt, seen, heard, smelt or tasted; it has no substance or solidity; it is neither large nor small, hot nor cold, long nor


“Then what is the long and short of it ?? asked the schoolmaster.

“ Abstraction,” replied the Doctor.

“Suppose, for instance," said Malachi," that I had a pitchfork"

“Ay," said the Doctor, “consider a pitchfork in general that is, neither this one nor that one, nor any particular one, but a pitchfork or pitchforks divested of their materialitythese are things in the abstract.” 7. “They are things in the hay-mow," said Malachi.

Pray,” said Uncle Tim, “have there been many such things discovered ?"

- Discovered !" returned the Doctor, “why, all things, whether in heaven or upon the earth, or in the waters under the earth, whether small or great, visible or invisible, animate or inanimate; whatever the eye can see, or the ear can hear, or the nose can smell, or the fingers touch; finally, whatever exists or is imaginable in the nature of things, past, present, or to come, all may be abstractions."

8. “ Indeed !” said Uncle Tim, “pray what do you make of the abstraction of a red cow ?"

“A red cow," said the Doctor, “considered metaphysically, or as an abstraction, is an animal possessing neither hide nor horns, bones nor flesh, but is the mere type, image, and fantastical semblance of these parts of a quadruped. It has a shape without any substance, and no color at all, for its redness is the mere counterfeit or imagination of such.

9. “ As it lacks the positive, so it is also deficient in the accidental properties of all the animals of its tribe; for it has no locomotion, stability, or endurance, neither goes to pasture, gives milk, chews the cud, nor performs any other function of a horned beast, but is a mere creature of the brain, begotten by a freak of the fancy, and nourished by a conceit of the im. agination.”

A dog's foot !” exclaimed Aunt Judy. “All the metaphysics under the sun wouldn't make a pound of butter.”

66 That's a fact !” said Uncle Tim.

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1. The lady thus address’d her spouse

“ What a mere dungeon is this house !
By no means large enough; and, was it,
Yet this dull room, and that dark closet,
Those hangings, with their worn-out Graces,
Long beards, long noses, and pale faces,
Are such an antiquated scene,
They overwhelm me with the spleen.”

2. Sir Humphrey, shooting in the dark,
Makes answer quite beside the mark-
“ No doubt, my dear; I bade him come,
Engag'd myself to be at home,
And shall expect him at the door
Precisely when the clock strikes four.”

“ You are so deaf,” the lady cried, (And rais’d her voice, and frown'd beside,) “You are so sadly deaf, my dear, What shall I do to make


hear ?"

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3. “Dismiss poor Harry!” he replies;

“ Some people are more nice than wise :
For one slight trespass all this stir !
What if he did ride whip and spur?
'Twas but a mile; your fav’rite horse
Will never look one hair the worse.

“ Well, I protest, 'tis past all bearing !"
“ Child! I am rather hard of hearing !"

“ Yes, truly, one must scream and bawl: I tell you, you can't hear at all.” Then, with a voice exceeding low, “ No matter, if you hear or no.”

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