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mination. A similar remark is applicable to Faber on the Cabiri. On this subject, not the least confidence can be placed in either of these writers.
The same may be said of the derivation and explanation of the Greek prepositions in Jones' Greek Grammar.
I will here mention what was omitted in its proper place, one of the most remarkable examples of ignorance or negligence in writing our vernacular tongue, that ever occurred, I believe, in any nation of a civilized and literary character. This is the use of the word island in writing—a word that does not properly belong to the language. The word isle, from the French isle, ile, from the Italian isola, Latin insula, is of legitimate origin; and to this, land has been most absurdly added. But the word we use in speaking, and which alone has been used, from time immemorial, by every man, woman and child speaking English, is ieland, German ieland, Dutch ieland, Saxon igland, a word that, in origin, has not any connection at all with isle. In this instance, as in comptroller, two different words are used—one in speaking, the other in writing; words having not the slightest connection with each other, and the written words, etymologically considered, do not express the idea intended. Such is the státe of English Philology.
My Dear Friend,
In pursuing your studies in the various branches of philosophy, a boundless field will be opened to your researches. In examining the works of nature and the laws by which the economy of the natural world is carried on, you will find ample materials for investigation, and abundant cause to admire and adore the Almighty author. In philosophical researches, however, be careful to distinguish, as far as practicable, between the certain, the probable, and the conjectural. Mathematical principles produce certain results, provided the premises and the operation are correct. All that depends on what are called the laws of nature, may be confided in with safety; as these laws are the agency, or dependent on the agency, of an Almighty Being who is unchangeable. These laws may be investigated to the extent of human power; but in our investigations, it is prudent to adhere closely to facts; placing no dependence on theory. Thus we may, by a series of observations, ascertain with great precision the revolutions of the planets; but when we attempt to learn the causes, we venture into the field of conjecture. We resort to theory or hypothesis to explain the phenomena; but after all our researches we are obliged to content ourselves with mere probability. The knowledge of causes, the author of nature reserves to himself.
I was taught, in early life, that philosophers have proved, by calculation, that the joint attraction of the sun and moon is sufficient to raise a tide, in the equatorial latitudes, of about eight feet; and that if the water met with no obstruction, the tides would rise to that altitude.
But every experienced seaman is able to inform us that, in the main ocean, or at a distance from land, where the currents meet with no obstruction, there is much less tide than on the shore; not more than three or four feet at most. And
in the West-Indies, where, by calculation, there ought to be eight feet of tide, the rise of water is scarcely perceptibleseldom more than twelve or fifteen inches. As a general rule, we may consider one half the rise of water on the shore, as the effect of the force or momentum of the current against an obstructing object. A common tide then, will be seven or eight feet. But when a current enters a bay, which continually grows narrower, or the water meets a promontory, it may be forced by its own impulse to the height of twenty or thirty feet, as in the bay of Passamaquoddy, the gulf of California, and the Persian gulf. The effect of such obstructions in currents of water is remarkably visible in the difference of altitude during a freshet in Connecticut River, at Middletown and below the highlands. At the bend of the river below Middletown, I am informed, the current is so much checked, that a flood of twelve feet rise at Middletown, gives not more than three or four feet rise of water immediately below the highlands. This fact explains most of the differences in tides on our shores. Certain it is, that facts overthrow the calculation above named; for the actual rise of water in the ocean is not more than half as great as the calculation supposes. I advert to this subject merely to show the danger of relying on theory.
We are informed that Sir Isaac Newton calculated or estimated the heat of the comet of 1680, during its perihelion, to be two thousand times greater than that of red hot iron. But here the estimate must rest upon the hypothesis that the substance of the comnet and the laws by which heat is accu. mulated on that body, are the same as exist in those bodies which fall under our cognizance on the earth. But of these we can know nothing; and the calculation therefore may be made upon false premises. Of one fact we may be more certain; that heat of the intensity supposed, would instantly dissolve and probably volatilize any substance belonging to this globe, of which we have any knowledge.
So philosophers amuse themselves with calculating the number of particles of light emitted by a lamp in a given time. But how can particles be numbered, when too minute to be distinguished? Ten thousand conjectural estimates and calculations of this kind add not a tittle to human knowledge.
But in no department of science is there such an unlimited range for hypothesis, as in metaphysics and intellectual philosophy. Of spirit we know nothing but its operations or effects. We think-we remember--we reason--but who can explain these operations? We know the brain has an agency in these operations; but the brain when separated from the body appears to be mere inert matter. How many volumes have been written to explain the manner in which we recieve ideas--and after all, how little do we know of the process! We see a star by means of the eye--we hear sound by the ear-we feel a rock by the touch. We give names to the effects of these substances on our organs--we call them perceptions, sensations, impressions, and this we must do, or we could not communicate with others on the subject. But when we analyze the terms used, how do we know that they express any thing like the real process by which the organs are affected?
I would not, by suggesting these doubts, appear to be de. sirous of repressing observation and inquiry into the physiology of the mind. Some advances have probably been made in this science, within the last half century, and further advances may yet be made. But the difficulties attending the subject should render us very cautious of adopting systems and theories.
A late writer of no ordinary celebrity has ventured to deny the common doctrine respecting cause and effect. The following extracts contain a summary of his opinions.
“We found that by an original principle of our constitution, we are led, from the mere observation of change, to believe, that, when similar circumstances recur, the changes which we observed, will also recur in the same order--that
there is hence conceived by us to be a permanent relation of one event, as invariably antecedent to another event, as invariably consequent-and that this permanent relation is all which constitutes power.
Brown, Lecture 7. "To express shortly what appears to me to be the only intelligible meaning of the three most important words in physics, immediate invariable antecedence is power—the immediate invariable antecedent, in any sequence, is a causem the immediate invariable consequent is the correlative effect.
Ibm. "Power is not any thing that can exist separately from a substance, but is merely the substance itself in relation to another substance."
Ibm. “ The power of bodies is their relation to each other in time.
Ibm. Such is the simple, and, as it appears to me, the only intelligible view of power, as discoverable in the succesive phenomena of nature."
Ilm. Surely the author cannot mean that immediate invariable antecedence is always what we call a cause. The dawn or morning light is the immediate invariable antecedent of the appearance of the sun above the horizon; but who ever imagined the dawn to be the cause of the sun's rising, or to have any resemblance to what we call agency?
It is true that in the operations of nature, we observe a multitude of changes, the causes of which are to us entirely unknown. We cannot see gravity, attraction or affinity. We only know that in certain situations particular bodies tend to each other spontaneously, or without external impulse; we denominate the unknown cause or principle of this tendency, a drawing towards, or attraction—which is really the name of the effect. We know that only which comes under the cognizance of the senses.
Equally beyond our comprehension is the manner in which spirit acts upon matter. We know that man wills, and that actions follow the determinations of the will--but how the