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this omnivorous appetite is peculiarly remarkable. Probabilities, the only objects of such studies, will at length become evanescent, or scarcely perceptible, when he who holds the scales refuses to adjust the balance, until satisfied that he has laden each with every suggestion and every argument which can be derived from every author who has preceded him in the same inquiries. Yet more hopeless is the search for truth, when this adjustment, once made, is again to be verified as often as any new speculations are discovered; and when the very faculty of human understanding, and the laws of reasoning, are themselves to be questioned and examined anew as frequently as doubts can be raised of their adaptation to their appointed ends. Busied with this immense apparatus, and applying it to this boundless field of inquiry, Baxter would have been bewildered by his own efforts, and lost in the mazes of a universal skepticism, but for the ardent piety which possessed his soul, and the ever recurring expectation of approaching death, which dissipated his ontological dreams, and roused him to the active duties, and the instant realities of life. Even as it is, he has left behind him much, which, in direct opposition to his own purposes, might cherish the belief that human existence was some strange chimera, and human knowledge an illusion, did it not fortunately happen that he is tedious in proportion as he is mystical. Had he possessed and employed the wit and gayety of Boyle, there are some of his writings to which a place must have been assigned in the Index Expurgatorius of Protestantism.
Amongst his contemporaries, Baxter appears to have been the object of general reverence, and of as general unpopularity. His temper was austere and irritable, his address ungracious and uncouth. While cordially admitting the merits of each rival sect, he concurred with none, but was the common censor and opponent of all. His own opinions on church government coincided with the later judgment, or, as it should rather be said, with the concessions of Archbishop Usher. They adjusted the whole of that interminable dispute to their mutual satisfaction at a conference which did not last above half an hour; for each of them was too devoutly intent on the great objects of Christianity to differ with each other very widely as to mere ritual observances. The contentions by which our forefathers were agitated on these subjects, have now happily subsided into a speculative and comparatively uninteresting debate. They produced their best, and perhaps their only desirable result, in diffusing through the Church, and amongst the people of England, an indestructible conviction of the folly of attempting to coerce the human mind into a servitude to any system or profession of belief; or of endeavouring to produce amongst men any real uniformity of
opinion on subjects beyond the cognisance of the bodily senses, and of daily observation. They have taught us all to acknowledge in practice, though some may yet deny in theory, that as long as men are permitted to avow the truth, the inherent diversities of their understandings, and of their circumstances, must impel them to the acknowledgment of corresponding variations of judgment, on all questions which touch the mysteries of the present or of the future life. If no man laboured more, or with less success, to induce mankind to think alike on these topics, no one ever exerted himself more zealously, or more effectually, than did Richard Baxter, both by his life and his writings, to divert the world from those petty disputes which falsely assume the garb of religious zeal, to those eternal and momentous truths, in the knowledge, the love, and the practice of which, the essence of religion consists.
One word respecting the edition of his works, to which we referred in the outset. For the reason already mentioned, we have stuck to our long-revered folios, without reading so much as a page of their diminutive representatives, and can therefore report nothing about them. But after diligently and repeatedly reading the two introductory volumes by Mr. Orme, we rejoice in the opportunity of bearing testimony to the merits of a learned, modest, and laborious writer, who is now, however, beyond the reach of human praise or censure. He has done every thing for Baxter's memory which could be accomplished by a skilful abridgment of his autobiography, and a careful analysis of the theological library of which he was the author; aided by an acquaintance with the theological literature of the seventeenth century, such as no man but himself has exhibited, and which it may safely be conjectured no other man possesses. Had Mr. Orme been a member of the Established Church, and had he chosen a topic more in harmony with the studies of that learned body, his literary abilities would have been far more correctly estimated, and more widely celebrated. We fear that they who dissent from her communion, and who are therefore excluded from her universities and her literary circles, are not to expect for their writings the same toleration which is so firmly secured for their persons and their ministry. Let them not, however, be dejected. Let them take for examples those whom they have selected as teachers; and learning from Richard Baxter to live and to write, they will either achieve his celebrity, or will be content, as he was, to labour without any other recompense than the tranquillity of his own conscience, the love of the people among whom he dwelt, and the approbation of the Master to whom every hour of his life, and every page of his books, were alike devoted.
PHYSICAL THEORY OF ANOTHER LIFE.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1840.]
In a series of volumes of later birth than | fashioned meeting-house, coeval with the aethat from which the author of the "Natural cession of the House of Hanover-and near History of Enthusiasm" takes the title of his it the decent residence, in which, since that literary peerage, he has bent his strength to auspicious era, have dwelt the successive pasthe task of revealing to itself the generation to tors of that wandering flock-fanning a genewhich he belongs. A thankless office that of rous spirit of resistance to tyrants, now happily the censorship! A formidable enterprise this, to be encountered only in imagination, or in to rebuke the errors of a contentious age, the records of times long since passed away. while repelling the support of each of the contending parties! To appease the outraged self-complacency of mankind, such a monitor will be cited before a tribunal far more relentless than his own. Heedless both of contumely and of neglect, he must pursue his labours in reliance on himself and on his cause; or, if fame be the reward to which he aspires, he must content himself with the anticipation of posthumous renown. It is not, however, easy for the aspirant himself to find the necessary aliment for such hopes. The writer of these works will therefore indulge us in a theory invented for the aid of his and our own imagination. Let it be supposed, that, instead of yet living to instruct the world, he was now engaged in bringing to the test of experiment his own speculations as to the condition of mankind in the future state. He reappears amongst sublunary men under the auspices of some not unfriendly editor; who, however, being without any other sources of intelligence respecting his course of life and studies, has diligently searched his books for such intimations as may furnish the materials for a short "Introductory Notice" of him and of them. The compiler is one of those who prefer the positive to the conjectural style of recounting matters of fact; and has assumed the freedom of throwing into the form of unqualified assertion the inferences he had gleaned from detached passages of the volumes he is about to republish. With the help of this slight and not very improbable hypothesis, the author of these works, while still remaining amongst us, may suppose himself to be reading, in some such lines as the following, the sentence which the critic of a future day will pass on his literary character.
Towards the close of the last century, a mild and venerable man ruled his household in that modest but not unornamented abode; for there might be seen the solemn portraits of the original confessors of nonconformity, with many a relic commemorative of their sufferings and their worth. Contrasted with these were the lighter and varied embellishments which bespeak the presence of refined habits, female taste, and domestic concord. There also were drawn up, in deep files, the works and the bio graphies of the Puritan divines, from Thomas Cartwright, the great antagonist of Whitgift, to Matthew Pool, who, in his Synopsis Criticorum, vindicated the claims of the rejected ministers to profound Biblical learning. This veteran battalion was flanked by a company of recruits drafted from the polite literature of a more frivolous age. Rich in these treasures, and in the happy family with whom he shared them, the good man would chide or smile away such clouds as checkered his habitual serenity, when those little nameless courtesies, so pleasantly interchanged between equals, were declined by the orthodox incumbent, or accepted with elaborate condescension by the wealthy squire. The democratic sway of the ruling elders, supreme over the finances and the doctrines of the chapel, failed to draw an audible sigh from his resolute spirit, even when his more delicate sense was writhing under wounds imperceptible to their coarser vision. He had deliberately made his choice, and was content to pay the accustomed penalties. A sectarian in name, he was at heart a Catholic, generous enough to feel that the insolence of some of his neighbours, and the vulgarity of others, were rather the accidents of their position than the vices of their character. Vexations such as these were beneath the regard of him who maintained in the village the sacred cause for which martyrs had sacrificed life with all its enjoyments; and who aspired to train up his son to the same honourable service, ill requited as it was by the glory or the riches of this transitory world.
One of those seemingly motionless rivers which wind their way through the undulating surface of England, creeps round the outskirts of a long succession of buildings, half town, half village, where the monotony of the wattled cottage is relieved by the usual neighbourhood of structures of greater dignity;the moated grange-the mansion-house, pierced That hope, however, was not to be fulfilled. by lines of high narrow windows-the square The youth had inherited his father's magnanitower of the church,struggling through a copse mity, his profound devotion, his freedom of of lime trees-the gray parsonage, where the thought, and his thirst for knowledge. But he conservative rector meditates his daily news-disclaimed the patrimony of his father's ecclepaper and his weekly discourse-the barn
siastical opinions. His was not one of those minds which adjust themselves to whatever * Physical Theory of Another Life. By the author mould early habits may have prepared for
of "Natural History of Enthusiasm." 1839.
them. It was compounded of elements, be
spiritual democracy, from the parsimonious simplicity of their sacred edifices, from the obtrusive prominence of the leaders of their worship, and from their seeming isolation in the midst of the great Christian commonwealth, his thoughts turned to those more august communions, where the splendours of earth symbolize the hierarchies of heavenwhere the successors in an unbroken lineage of apostles and martyrs are yet ministering at the altar-where that consecrated shrine echoes to the creeds and the supplications of the first converts to the faith-and where alone can flourish those arduous but unobtrusive virtes, of which an exact subordination of ranks forms the indispensable basis. Already halfdiverted by such yearnings as these from his hereditary standard, his return to the embrace of the Episcopal Church was further aided by a morbid dislike, unworthy of his powerful intellect, of falling into common-place trains of thought or language. Educated in a body through which religious opinions and pious phrases but too lightly circulate, his instinctive dread of vulgarity led him into speculations where such associates would be shaken off, and to the use of a style such as was never employed by the dwellers in tabernacles. Of a nature the most unaffected, and irreproachably upright in the search of truth, he conducted his inquiries with such elaborate fineness of speech, and with such a fear of acquiescing in the bare creed of the school in which he had been bred, that his fellow-scholars must have formed an unjust estimate of their companion, had he not been withdrawn in early life to other associations, and to far different studies from those which they had pursued in common. From his parental village, the future author was transferred to the remote and busy world in which our English youth are instructed in the unjoyous science of special pleading, and trained for the dignities of the coif.
tween which there are no apparent affinities, | To one worthy of the much prostituted name but the reverse; and which, for that reason, of poet, no forms of society are without their produce in their occasional and unfrequent interest and their charm. But he whom the combination, a character substantive, indivi- gods have not made poetical may be kinddual, and strongly discriminated from that of hearted and wise, and even possessed by many other men. Shrinking from the coarse fami- a brilliant fancy, and by many a noble aspiraliarities of the world, he thirsted for the world's tion; and so it fared with this scion of a nonapplause at once a very libertine in the un-conformist race. From the coarseness of a fettered exercise of his own judgment, and a very worshipper of all legitimate authorityalternately bracing his nerves for theological strife, and dissolving them in romantic dreams -now buried in the depths of retirement, that he might plunge deeper still into the solitudes of his own nature; and then revealing his discoveries in a style copied from the fashionable models of philosophical oratory;-the young man of whom we tell might be described as a sensitive plant grafted on a Norwegian pine, as a Spartan soldier enamoured of the Idylls of Theocritus, or as an anchorite studious of the precepts of the cosmetic earl of Chesterfield. Nature and accident combined to produce this contrast; integrity and truth gradually blended it into one harmonious, though singular whole. The robust structure of his understanding might have rendered him a rude dogmatist, if the delicate texture of his sensitive or spiritual frame had not forbidden every approach of arrogance. Exploring with intrepid diligence the great questions debated amongst men regarding their internal interests, he recoiled with disgust from the unmannerly habits, the sordid passions, and the petty jealousies which proclaim, but too loudly, that while we dispute about the path to heaven, we are still treading the miry ways of this uncelestial world. Angelic abodes, and holy abstractions, and universal love, were the alluring themes; but, handled as they were by polemics in the language of Dennis, and in the spirit of the Dunciad, our theological student was sometimes tempted to wish that the day on which he was initiated into the mysteries of the hornbook might be blotted from the calendar. Thrown into early association with the depressed and less prosperous party in the ecclesiastical quarrels of his native laud, the asperities of the contest presented themselves to his inquisitive and too susceptible eye, unmitigated by the graceful and well-woven veil, beneath which sophistry and rancour can find a specious disguise when allied to rank and By the unlearned in such matters, more disfortune and other social distinctions. Episco- tinct evidence of this passage in his life may pal charges and congregational pamphlets might perhaps be demanded than the indications vie with each other in bitterness and wrong; which his writings afford of a technical acbut there rested with the mitred disputant an quaintance with the law. But every "free and unquestionable advantage in the grace and accepted brother" of the craft will recognise, dignity and seeming composure with which in his frequent and curiously exact use of fohe inflicted pain and quickened the appetite rensic language, a confidence and a skill for revenge. By the unsullied moral sense of which belong only to the acolite in those stuthe young divine, either form of malevolence dies. That the Term Reports would be searched might be equally condemned; but to his fasti-in vain for the specimens of his dialectic dious taste the ruder aspect which it bore amongst the advocates of dissent was by far the more offensive.
powers may, however, be readily believed. Thurlow had as little to fear from the rivalry of the author of the "Task," as Lord CottenFeelings painfully alive to the ungraceful ham from that of the author of the "Natural and the homely in human character, invariably History of Enthusiasm." Westminster Hall indicate an absence of the higher powers of is no theatre to be trodden by men of pensive imagination. To a great painter the counte- spirits, delicate nerves, and high-wrought sennance of no man is entirely devoid of beauty.sibilities. It is to England what the plain of
a little ostentatiously prominent, accorded to them not merely from their own unrivalled worth and beauty, but also perhaps from the wish of the autocrat to avow their influence over him. But the main power of his state consisted in a race of ancient lineage and ob
and Irenæus, and so onward through the long series of Greek and Latin Fathers, eccclesiastical historians, acts of councils and of saints, decretals, missals, and liturgies, all in turn casting their transient lights and their deep shadows over the checkered fortunes of the Christian Church. Brought within the pre
Elis was to Greece; and when a Pindar shall arise to celebrate the triumphs achieved there, he must sing of heroes who have rejoiced in the dust and sweat and turmoil of the strife, of men of thick skins and robust consciences, buoyant and fearless, prompt in resources, and unscrupulous in the use of them. Far other-solete tongues, beginning with Clement, Justin, wise the original of the portrait, so vividly yet so unconsciously self-drawn in these volumes. Every lineament tells of one incapable of lending himself to any wilful sophistry-of a man rich both in knowledge and in power, though destitute of that quiet energy which in judicial tribunals, finds appropriate utterance in the simplest combinations of the plainest words-cincts of this wide dominion, Homer, Eschyof a mind banqueting on contemplations most lus, Dante, Shakspeare, and the humbler parabhorrent from those of the peremptory paper. takers of their inspiration, awaited at some Not, however, "the worst of all his ills, the distance the occasional summons of this mighty noisy bar." Political strife shed a repulsive potentate. But in their reverend aspect might gloom over the other halls of the ancient pa- be perceived something, which confessed that lace of Westminster. The whole tribe of party they were not amongst his chosen and habitual writers, diurnal and hebdomadal, overshadowed companions. Court favour here, as elsewhere, his path, like a flight of obscene birds, pol- seemed to be capricious in proportion as it luting by their touch and distracting by their was diffusive; and writers on physiology, dissonance those researches into the interests astronomy, plants, insects, birds, and fishes, of the commonwealth and the duties of her shared with metaphysicians, moralists, and the chiefs, to which he desired to address a serene writers of civil history, the hours occasionally and unbiassed judgment. His heart assured, withdrawn by their master from more serious and his observation convinced him, that not intercourse with his apostolic, patristic, papal, merely the leaders, but even the subalterns of and reformed counsellors. In short, it was one contending factions, were far wiser and better of those rooms which he who can securely men than they appeared in those clever, reck-possess, quietly enjoy, and wisely use, may, in less, and malignant sketches thrown off from sober truth, pity the owners of Versailles and day to day by writers condemned to lives of the Escurial. ceaseless excitement, and excluded from the blessings of leisure and of self-communion.
It is an old tale. Our author bade the town farewell, yet in a spirit far different from that of the injured Thales. He had no wrongs, real or imaginary, to resent, nor one sarcasm for the great city in which he had faintly wooed the smiles of fortune. With a mind as tranquil as the rural scenes to which he retired, he sought there leisure for many an unworldly and for some whimsical speculations, with a resting-place for the household and the library which divided his heart between them.
A topographical catalogue of the books which a man has collected and arranged for his own delight, will lay open some of the recesses of his bosom as clearly as ever the character of courtier or cavalier was sketched by the pen of Clarendon.
Wise men read books that they may learn to read themselves, and for this purpose quit their libraries for the open air. The heath, the forest, or the river-side, is the true academy. There the student, with no kind neighbour to dissipate his thoughts, and with no importunate author to chain them down, casts them into such forms of soliloquy or dialogue, of verse or prose, as best suits the humour or the duties of the passing day. This peripatetic discipline is best observed under cover of an angling rod, a bill hook, or a gun; for then may not the vicar or the major, without an evident breach of privilege, detain you on the county-rate question, nor may the gentler voice of wife or daughter upbraid you with the sad list of your unrequited visits? Besides, your country philosopher flatters himself that in hooking a trout, or flushing a pheasant, his In the chamber where our recluse held his eye is as true and his hand as steady as those reign, the monarch of many a well-peopled of the squire; and from this amiable weakness province, giving audience in turn to each of the historian of enthusiasm would seem not to his many-tongued subjects, and exacting from have been quite exempt. Emerging from his them all tribute at his pleasure, might be seen, library as one resolved to bring home some supreme in place and favour, a venerable copy score head of game, his stout purposes would of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. A gradually die away as he reached the brook, troop of tall, sad-coloured folios, the deposito-whose windings were oddly associated in his ries of the devout studies and anxious self-mind with various theories by which the world searchings of the Puritan divines, was drawn was one day to be enlightened, and with many up on shelves within reach of his outstretched half-conceived chapters of essays yet to be arm. With but little additional effort it en- written. To meditate on the advantages of countered a tribe of more lofty discourse, bred meditation, was on these occasions one of his in the sacred solitudes of Port-Royal, yet redo- chosen exercises; and, in the ornate style to lent of the passion of their native land for an which he was wedded, he would muse on those imposing and graceful demeanour. Honest in whom "the intellectual life is quick in all George Latimer, with a long line of Episcopal its parts." "It is," he would say, "as when and Episcopalian successors, held a position the waters of a lake are left to deposit their
feculence and to become pure as the ether itself, so that they not only reflect from their surface the splendours of heaven, but allow the curious eye to gaze delighted upon the decorated grottoes and sparkling caverns of the depth beneath. Or might we say, that the ground of the human heart is thickly fraught with seeds which never germinate under either a wintry or a too fervent sky; but let the dew come gently on the ground, and let mild suns warm it, and let it be guarded against external rudeness, and we shall see spring up the gayety and fragrance of a garden. The Eden of human nature has indeed long been trampled down and desolated and storms waste it continually; nevertheless the soil is still rich with the germs of its pristine beauty, the colours of paradise are sleeping in the clods, and a little favour, a little protection, a little culture, shall show what once was there. Or, if we look at the human spirit in its relation to futurity, it must be acknowledged that as an immortality of joy is its proper destiny, so it is moved by instincts which are the true prognostics of eternal life. Earthly passions quench these fore-scents of happiness, but meditation fosters them; and the life of the religious recluse is a delicious anticipation of pleasures that shall have no end."
Strange that one who justly claimed a high station among the bold and original thinkers of his times, should have woven this tissue of brave words, and should have decked his most elaborate inquiries with countless posies as garish as these! But the key to the riddle has already been given. Could notes have been struck less in unison with the Cantilena of the meeting-house? Could any have been touched better fitted to charm those dear but dangerous judges, who in winter evenings listen to a revered and familiar voice reciting passages, which still glow in their and in his own too partial eyes with all the freshness of creation? Has not the immutable decree gone forth, that though he whose home is secure from the invasions of the world may write excellently upon home education, he must watch jealously against home criticism? And yet an English gentleman of our railway age, who had devoted himself to an anchorite life, might with some reason insist that the fruits he had gathered for the use of other secluded households could be brought to no better test than the good or illliking of the companions of his own retreat. To betake himself, as our author was wont to do, to some valley of silence," and there, as he expressed it, to "accumulate a rich treasure of undefined sentiments and indistinct conceptions," was to indulge in a diet at once intoxicating and unnutritious. The juices of his mental frame would have been altogether attenuated by thus feeding on bright unutterable day-dreams about the microcosm within him; or the unembodied spirits who surrounded him; or the physical structure of the paradise he hoped to regain; or any thing else, so long as it was but foreign to the pursuits, the cares, and the interests of the world in which he lived. But then would succeed the cheerful fireside talk, which compelled him to become intelligible to others and to himself. What Plato
meant in many of his discourses, no one, with reverence be it spoken, has ever very clearly discovered; but who would have found courage to make the attempt, but for those bright fictions which bring the reader into a colloquial party, where much of the gaseous matter which must otherwise have exhaled into an impalpable mist, is fixed and brought within the range of human perception by the necessities of the dialogue. Even so, our modern speculator, after soaring "into that wide and uncircumscribed sphere wherein spirits excursive and philosophically modest take their range," and gathering there, "if not certain and irrefragable conclusions, at least scattered particles of wisdom, which he more highly esteemed than all the stamped coinage whereof dogmatism makes its boast," would make his way home again, and explain himself to an audience which Socrates might have envied. There, condescending to enter "within that bounded circle of things which may be measured on all sides and categorically spoken of," he would exhibit the inbred vigour of his understanding, quickened and guided by the native kindness of his heart. Had he not been a husband and a father, he would have been a mystic. His interior life would have degenerated into one protracted and unsubstantial vision, if his house had not echoed to a concert of young voices executing all manner of sprightly variations on the key-notes sounded by his own. His "free converse with truth and reason in the sanctuary of his own bosom," would have been held in that incommunicable language which reason was never yet able to under stand, if his free converse with his boys and girls had not habitually admonished him that the sublime in words may be easily combined with the beautiful in sentences, without the slightest advantage to the author of the spell or to any one else. After musing on the compromise of antagonist principles throughout universal nature, he was thus taught the necessity for reconciling the hostile propensities of his own bosom-the one beckoning him to tread the dizzy confines which separate the transcendental from the nonsensical, the other inviting him to drag the river with his sons, or to read L'Allegro to his daughters. Peace was concluded on better terms for the father than the visionary. Each passing year found him a plainer-spoken man, more alive to sublunary thoughts, and more engaged in active duties. Yet to the last, like some of the great painters of his day, he eschewed transparent lights and clear outlines, and loved to delineate objects through a haze.
There is a great want of a philosophical essay on the choice, the benefits, and the treatment of the hobby horses. It would form a connecting link between the Libraries of Useful and of Entertaining Knowledge. Scarcely a man (the made-up and artificial man alone excepted) who could not be laid under contribution for such a work. Our learned and amiable recluse might have a whole chapter to himself. When it was not a field-day with him, and he had no exercises in divinity to perform, he would descend from the great horse, and amble about to his heart's