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LITERARY NOTICES.

Ethical Studies.

By F. H.

able an antagonist, and gives such Bradley, Fellow of Merton College, an exquisite zest to the Platonic Oxford. H. S. King & Co. Lon. dialogues. don, 1876.-Mr. Bradley does not Let no one be simple enough to pretend to have composed a syste- interpret Mr. Bradley's words litematic and exhaustive treatise on rally. He is anything but the moral philosophy. He is not even untutored, unsophisticated, “plain, prepared to define the sphere of blunt man," crassá Minervá, that he moral philosophy, so as to deter- represents himself. Whatever may mine what properly falls within it,

be his deficiencies, he is certainly and what ought to be excluded from not wanting in metaphysical acuteit. He professes simply to discuss ness and logical dexterity. If anysome leading questions in ethics, thing, he shows an excess of these with a view to expose and correct

qualifications. His Oxford training some misconceptions which he has told upon him He has not thinks prevalent. This is un

studied logic, Aristotle, Plato, doubtedly a perfectly legitimate and Kant, and Hegel, without effect. useful task, provided always it be No distinction is too nice for his performed by a competent hand. subtlety, no conception too abstract Strange to say, Mr. Bradley him

for his firm grasp.

He revels in self proclaims his own incompetency. hair-splitting to the n’th degree. The writer," he says, “ knows how His divisions and sub-divisions conmuch is demanded by his task. It fuse one with their multiplicity. His demands an acquaintance with the conjuror's tricks with words startle facts of the world which he does and puzzle. He has no difficulty not possess, and it demands that in showing, by this means, that a clearness of view on the main con. thing both is and is not, and is ceptions which govern our thoughts, both black and white. Paradox and which comes, if at all, to the finished contradiction are his delight. He student of metaphysic. The reader starts all sorts of objections and must not expect this either.” We questions, which would never occur cannot help suspecting there is more to an ordinary mind, and tells the of rhetorical artifice than genuine reader, for his edification, that they sincerity in this self-depreciation. It admit of both an affirmative and a remindsone too much of Antony's, – negative answer.

tually reminded of the interminable "I am no orator, as Brutus is,

and amusing quibbling by which But as you know me all, a plain, blunt Plato represents Socrates as arrivman

ing at contradictory conclusions,

which he does not attempt to reand the sly irony of Socrates, which concile. Nor is Mr. Bradley destirenders him so much more formid- tute of Socratic humour. He flings

One is perpe

his sarcastic sneers about with great freedom, is never tired of quoting current phrases that have become the catch-words of party, and sometimes manages to make his antagonist look very ridiculous. He professes never to have gone beyond the limits of fair controversy, yet he does not scruple to intimate pretty plainly that those who differ from him are the victims of ignorance and dulness of perception.

The book is altogether too dogmatic for a professedly critical work. Criticism, to be of any value, should consist of something more than assertion, unsupported by fair argument. It is a poor apology for dogmatism and one-sidedness to urge, as Mr. Bradley does, that other English works on moral philosophy are chargeable with the same faults. This may be true not only of English works, but also of the great German authorities followed by Mr. Bradley; but it does not remove, or in the slightest degree alleviate, the objection to such a tone in philosophical writing. In these scientific days people are more than ever impatient of dogmatic affirmation without proof.

The first essay is entitled, "The Vulgar Notion of Responsibility in Connection with the Theories of Free Will and Necessity." Mr. Bradley begins by telling us what is not the object of the essay-a practice which he adopts, with questionable advantage, throughout the work. This, together with his fondness for frequent digression, and endless multiplicity of detail, has a tendency to confuse and weary, rather than enlighten and interest the reader. If he had confined himself to fewer leading thoughts, giving them their due prominence, and keeping others in subordination, conforming, in fact, to the laws of mental perspective, the impression left on the mina of the reader would

have been more distinct and intelligible.

The drift of this essay seems to be to show that both the necessitarian and free-will schools of philosophy are wrong, because they are at variance with vulgar notions of responsibility. Mr. Bradley declines the task of discussing the subject on first principles, and will not even venture to say what responsibility at bottom is.

As is commonly the case, the critical or negative portion of Mr. Bradley's work is more successful than the constructive or positive part. Acute and crushing as he is in demolishing the theories of others, he is not so clear and convincing in establishing his own doctrine as might be wished. He acknowledges that it is not new, though comparatively unknown in this country. His chief authorities are the German writers, Hegel, Kant, and Vaske, whose philosophy he describes as one "which we all have refuted, and having so cleared our consciences, which some of us at least might take steps to understand." Judging from this philosophy as represented in Mr. Bradley's pages, it would appear far from easy to understand. The sum and substance of morality, we are taught, is self-realization. "Realize yourself as an infinite whole;' in other words, Be specified in yourself, but not specified by anything foreign to yourself,"" is the first and great commandment. Those who feel a difficulty in clearly understanding what this means, may perhaps be enlightened by the following explanation: "Realize yourself as an infinite whole,' means Realize yourself as the self-conscious member of an infinite whole, by realizing that whole in yourself.' When that whole is truly infinite, and when your personal will is wholly made one with it, then you also have reached

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the extreme of homogeneity and specification in one, and have attained a perfect self-realization."

Even supposing this to be intelligible, it is scarcely consistent with what we are afterwards told. Here the injunction is, "Be specified in yourself, but not specified by anything foreign to yourself." Elsewhere, moral good is said to be "the realization of the good will which is superior to us." The mysterious process of realizing this goodwill is thus explained:

"The good will, then, is the bare form of the will, and this is the end. This is what I have to realize, and realize in myself. But I am not a mere form; I have an " empirical' nature, a series of particular states of the 'this me,' a mass of desires, aversions, inclinations, passions, pleasures, and pains, what we may call a sensuous self. It is in this self that all content, all matter, all possible filling of the form must be sought; for all matter must come from experience,' must be given in and through the perception of the outer world or of the series of my own internal states, and is in either case sensuous, and the opposite of the insensible form.

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"The empirical' self, the this me, is, no less than the self which is formal will, an element of the moral subject. These elements are antithetical the one to the other; and hence the realization of the form is possible only through an antagonism, an opposition which has to be overcome. It is this conflict and this victory in which the essence of morality lies. Morality is the activity of the formal self forcing the sensuous self, and here first can we attach a meaning to the words 'ought' and 'duty.'

What constitutes the goodness of "the good will which is superior to ourselves" is not stated. All we are told is, that "the good is the good will," and that a man "is good when he is moral, and he is moral when his actions are conformed to, and embody a good will, or when his will is good;" in other

words, a man is good when he is good. This may appear to a reader not initiated into the mysteries of German transcendental philosophy as rather a lame and impotent conclusion; but Mr. Bradley, who is, of course, a much better judge, regards it with no small complacency.

Though Mr. Bradley's work cannot be said to have settled any great question in moral philosophy, or even to be a very valuable contribution to philosophical discussion, it is full of suggestive thought and racy writing-hence, it is well worth the attention of those who are interested in such inquiries. The author's definitions of pleasure as "self-realizedness," and pain as "the negatedness of self," are curiosities both of literature and philosophy.

Famous Women and Heroes. A poem. Third and cheap edition. The Poetry of Creation. Fourth and cheap edition. By N. Michell. W. Tegg and Co. 1876.—That Mr. Michell has achieved a certain amount of success as a writer of verse, is abundantly proved by the number of editions his "poetical works" have reached. But success in the sense of having produced poetry of a superior order is more than we can honestly concede to him. Such facility in versification as can be acquired by careful study and practice he may be allowed to possess. His verse is generally correct in metre, accent, and rhyme, flowing with a gentle smoothness, if not much sweetness. He is well acquainted with all the usual artifices employed for poetical ornament and effect. But the highest art of concealing art he does not possess. His verse is artificial rather than artistic, more rhetorical than poetical, and

of green,

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deficient in depth of feeling, power

If Cæsar cross thy tide, what woe, of imagination, freshness of thought,

what ill, and force of expression. We have

May burst on men! what blood the

sword must spill! all the machinery of poetry without its moving power, the body without the soul. Walking on stilts is a “The glow-worm twinkles on the banks poor substitute for flying, and plain honest prose is better than prosy

The lily bends her virgin head in verse. Mediocrity and dulness in

sleep: professed poetry are unpardonable

A holy silence wraps the beauteous

scene, sins, of which, unless we are very Save where from stone to stone the much mistaken, Mr. Michell is by

wavelets creep: no means guiltless. It is not pos- They raise their tiny voice as if in sible to read many pages of his prayer, verse without a sense of weariness

To him who treads the shore in and sleepy languor.

musings deep; “Famous Women and Heroes”

They seem to say, 'Thy fellow mortals is simply a series of passages in

spare!

Happier the task to bid them smile history put into verse spun out to

then weep; a tedious length, and largely diluted Years, like my waves of crystal, swiftly with milk-and-water moralising. flow, These pictures of the past are

Then grudge not man his fleeting span neither vividly conceived nor effec

below.' tively pourtrayed. The attention is dissipated and wearied by trivial The apostrophe to the Rubicon details which are matters of course. in the first stanza is flat and tedi. Commonplace exaggeration and ous, the descriptive part being just strained metaphor serve only to as suitable for any other small reveal poverty of invention and river, and the reflective portion feebleness of expression. These feebly expressed. The next stanza remarks are especially applicable to

is even

worse. This is the firsi the account of the battle of Water- time we ever heard of the glowloo, which is spread out thin over worm twinkling. We always had no less than six pages. In the the idea, both from the report of account of Cæsar, his crossing the others and our own observation, Rubicon naturally occupies a pro

that it glowed with a steady, unminent place. From this scene we changing light. Nothing can be in extract two stunzas.

worse taste than to talk about the wavelets raising their tiny voice in

prayer, unless it be the prayer it“No land may hold in peace two ruling

self they are supposed to utter

as if Cæsar needed them to teach men ; Ambition's rivals needs must foemen him that it is a happier task to

make

smile than weep, Pompey would sway the world; is

1 and that years flow swiftly like a Cæsar then

stream. If these talking wavelets Too frail to grasp such lofty destiny ?

could find nothing better than such Thou Rubicon! small, humble, gentle

twaddle as this to say, they might stream, Kissing the wild flowers trembling

as well have held their tongues. on thy shore, JOHAM196

In "The Poetry of Creation" Pure as the sky, a silver-gliding dream,

Mr. Michell ventures on a higher Where peace and love should rest theme, and shrinks not from treadfor evermore

ing on the same ground as Milton.

be;

men

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and provoking comparison with We love thee, and would scarce desire him. The subject is so completely To see thy languid, placid eye beyond the range of human knois. More brightly lit with golden fire; ledge, that common sense, to say

Some memory in thy breast doth lie,

Silently, slowly, feeding there ; nothing of higher considerations,

And thou must move sedate and fair, would seem to dictate silence as

And ofttimes pine and fade away, the only proper course. Certain it

With shrinking orb and lessening ray, is, that even Milton, with all his Through the long cycle of thy years, true, poetical insight, was betrayed A thing of beauty, love, and tears." into abundant absurdity and inpiety through going beyond what is written. And what right has

Mr. Michell's idea of the moon's Mr. Michell to suppose he can

being clad in white vestments to succeed where Milton failed ? The

show its stricken heart is decidedly

But

original, so far as we know. confident coolness with which he presumes to describe the delibera- that it has any poetic truth or tions and reveal the purposes of the

beauty in it, is more than we will Divine mind is revolting to a rightly undertake to say. . Why the moon disposed, thoughtful person. Of the

should be represented as a palevarious objects in creation which

faced young lady, wasting away Mr. Michell undertakes to describe with grief at heart, and a long tale we will select the moon, which he upon her mind which she refuses thus apostrophises :

to tell anybody, is more than we can understand. Mr. Michell goes

much too far in personifying and * Thou moon, sweet Ministress of apostrophising all sorts of objects

and abstract ideas on all sorts of ocgood!

casions. His similes and metaphors Soothing, while hallowing solitude, Now rising with new radiance crowned, are often egregiously unnatural To walk for ever yon profound,

and jumbled together, and his What unborn millions will on thee exaggeration is beyond all reason, Look from the waste, the pathless sea, The following few lines describing To guide them on their darkening the nightingale's singing in Eden way,

will suffice for illustration:-
Blessing thy calm, benignant ray!
Yet, gentle lady of the skies !
With whitest flowers around thy

"Now sinking low, the feeble trill
brow,
And tenderest dreams in mildest eyes,

Breathes like the gushings of a rill,

A thin-drawn thread of silvery sound, Sorrow to thee will love to bow. Thy step so still along the blue,

That pulses soft, and faints around,

Unutterably sweet the lay, Thy beams, if smiles, seem tear-drops

Each leaf upon the aspen spray too,

Ceases its trembling, as to listen; Shed softly down but coldly bright, Making more

Gemm'd Night her finger lifteth up, mournful mourning And, as she

drinks the nectar'd cup Night;

Of low rich sounds, her pale eyes Yes, in white vestments thou art clad, To show thy stricken heart is sad,

glisten." Like grieving vestals, who below, When death lays some young sister If poetry consisted of nothing

low,
Steal on and weep in weeds of snow.

more than metaphor, however over

strained and confused, and exagO Moon ! thy tale thou wilt not tell, But in thy heart there seems to dwell

geration, however irrational, this A sorrow that makes pale thy cheek, passage might fairly be considered And yet thou look'st so blandly meck, highly poetical; but if good sense

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