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“ Like some lone chartreux stands the good old hall,
Affrights the beggar, whom he longs to eat.” The name of the owner of this ruinous and inhospitable mansion was universally execrated throughout the country. He was distinguished for his many oppressions, by the which indeed he had acquired his ill-gotten quantum of wealth, the sarcastic ungraciousness of his manners, and the uniform hardness of his heart. Many families, that had lived respected around, owed their ruin to him: totally destitute of charity, all his tenants, and he had many, were griped to the utmost ; and from inability to make up the smallest sums, those who held under him were turned out of their tenements, and often plunged ‘in consequence into the most abject poverty. He lived in a style of most inexorable penury: childless—wifeless—for he had treated her, who had been his wife, in the most barbarous manner; and even various dark and mysterious reports were circulated in the neighbourhood respecting the cause of her decease. He stood, unblessed by human sympathy, or association, alone in the world in which he had played so ill a part, and was fast descending a blighted, unconnected remnant, into a grave, over which no tear of regretful affection would be shed, no sigh of tender remembrance would be breathed, but on which the curse of the poor man would descend with aggravated bitterness, and around which, to time immemorial, the tale of callousness, revenge, and cruelty, would hourly circulate. He lies buried in the village churchyard of
A plain tombstone, never or seldom pointed out but on inquiry, marks the spot where he awaits the judgment of the Infinite, and on which is simply the following:
“ Michael SwiNFORD,
Obiit September - 17--" But to return to that with which we set out. It was one evening in September. The wind was wailing, not loudly but deeply, along the ridge of the Devil's Dyke. The atmosphere was unusually warm for the season ; the day had been oppressive and clouded, and over the distant hills still hung the haze which had canopied them during the day. A sort of preternatural stillness, augmented by the contrast, reigned over the scene in the intervals of the wind; the sun, dilated to an unusual breadth and half-smothered in lurid-looking clouds, to whose deep and eccentric outline an intense illumination had been imparted, had just sunk beneath the horizon, and the rosy lights of early twilight softening nearer shadows and remoter tints into a luxuriant purity, on which an artist would have been delighted to dwell, were beginning rapidly to decline into the grey obscurity of advancing night. Before lay the precipitous depth of the wide and singular Dyke. Sloping broadly down in majestic abruptness, absorbing the damp autumnal light, covered with the scanty herbage peculiar to the comparative aridity of the soil, its lower parts, as they gradually receded, were indistinguishable in the deepness of the shadow which brooded upon them, and stretched on either side in chill and melancholy length, till confounded with the cloudiness of distance. The crimson light of the fast-departing evening had disappeared from the lower country, and was now only discernible on the gleaming summits of the far-off ridges of hills. A few pale stars, struggling into quivering existence through the breaks of cloud above, were shedding a tremulous lustre; the last vesper Alush was dying in the west; and to add to the solemnity of the landscape, the darkness of an approaching storm was majestically spreading in the southwest, and the rumbling of advancing thunder booming deeply in the gloom of distance. Before the door of her wild habitation sat the form of the mad woman of the Dyke. She was intently watching the approach of the tempest which threatened, and every minute glancing behind her, as if she distrusted the protection her crazy LORD BROUGHAM'S DISCOURSE OF NATURAL
residence was capable of affording; her skinny and attenuated hand rested on her knee, and there was nothing in her quick and penetrating eye that indicated insanity. Beside her lay a basket of herbs and wild fruit, which she had that day with much pains collected, and about her feet hopped a half-starved raven, for which she seemed to entertain a particular attachment.
But now a dim and fast approaching figure was observable coming from the seaward. It caught the old woman's eye, who turned round and occupied herself apparently with speculations of its character. The thunder had by this time come nearer, and a heavy roll reverberated above. The former rapidly neared its observer, who in the increasing darkness sought in vain to define its lineaments : it seemed to be hurrying on without regard to the difficulty of the ground over which it passed, and fast approaching the ridge of the far-famed Dyke, the dangers of further passage seemed to threaten an increase. On however it went, apparently totally regardless of the old woman's hurried intimation of peril, towards that part which was most precipitous. She now perceived that this reckless and mysterious stranger was enveloped in the cloudy folds of a dark and voluminous mantle, and that its face and shape baffled discernment. In the greatest astonishment and incapable of utterance, she saw this figure descending, seemingly unhurt and with the greatest velocity, the steepest part of the glen before her and as rapidly surmounting the opposite side. She watched it for some time with breathless attention, till at length its proportions melted into uncertainty, and the whole form became blended with the shadows of distance. As if urged by a sudden impulse, she fled shrieking into the house, while the last glimmer of twilight faded into the darkness of night.
The next day it was whispered throughout the neighbouring country that on the evening preceding, Michael Swinford had been gathered to his fathers: who it was that crossed the Dyke, at the time the event intimated took place, was never satisfactorily determined; but the superstitious peasantry identified him with the personage whose name it since has borne, and insinuated that the supposed fate of the oppressor was amply deserved by that of which he had been guilty.
Paley's Natural Theology illustrated. Preliminary Discourse, by
LORD BROUGHAM. (First title.) A Discourse of Natural Theology, showing the Nature of the Evidence and the Advantages of the Study. By HENRY Lord BROUGHAM, F.R.S., and Member of the National Institute of France. (Second title.) Charles Knight, Ludgate Street
To the Editor of the Metropolitan Magazine.
SIR, Can you make room for a few remarks on some of the arguments used by Lord Brougham in his “ Discourse of Natural Theology?”. They are but few, though I could have wished to go through the book page by page; but that I knew you could not give insertion to an article which, in that case, must necessarily have been so lengthy.
When I remember the great learning, the unquestioned talent, and uncommon ingenuity which all must acknowledge Lord Brougham possesses, I am apt to wonder at my own temerity in daring to question the validity of any argument of his. But the truth is, while I read his book I did not think at all of his lordship-I only thought of his lordship’s arguments.
Allow me further to premise that, in impugning Lord Brougham's arguments, I am by no means to be considered as questioning the doctrine-the general doctrine-which those arguments were intended to advocate-a doctrine which no man could disprove if he would, nor, I think, would wish to disprove even if he could. It is precisely because I am a friend to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul that I am anxious to show the feebleness and fallacy of Lord Brougham's arguments; because I believe that one bad argument in favour of any doctrine is more injurious to that doctrine than twenty against it; more especially if it happen to be advanced by a man of acknowledged learning and talent. For mankind, who are ever ready to shuffle off the trouble of thinking for themselves, reason thus. They say,—“This man is a friend to the doctrine, therefore he will select the very best and strongest possible arguments that can be brought to bear upon it; he is, moreover, a learned and a talented man, therefore he is able to see and know which are the best and the strongest.” And when they find that this advocate of the doctrine, with all his talent and all his learning, can produce no better arguments than such as those contained in the “ Discourse of Natural Theology,” they are then, very naturally, likely to conclude that the doctrine is itself unsound, and that no good argument can be brought to support it. Let no one draw such a conclusion in the present in
To the “ Discourse of Natural Theology may well be applied the old Greek proverb akanyos duola. It is indeed Bancketje van drie hazelnooten,-a small banquet of three hazel-nuts. For the reasons above stated, I have only glanced at a few of the most superficial fallacies; but I assure you, I have searched it most diligently through without being once able to exclaim, “ Ecco lo fico !” Behold the fig!
At page 56 the author says, “ The consciousness of existence—the perpetual sense that we are thinking, and that we are performing the operation quite independently of all material objects, proves to us the existence of a being quite different from our bodies.” I have nothing to say of this passage, because by no possible effort can I understand it; for surely his lordship does not mean to say that there exists in him a perpetual sense that he is thinking, and that he is performing the operation quite independently of his own brain! And yet if he do not mean this, to me the whole passage is profoundly unintelligible.
At page 57 he says, “ But that the mind that the sentient principlethat the thing or the being which we call “I' and “We, and which thinks, feels, reasons, should have no existence is a contradiction in terms." Now observe how exactly the same argument, stated in the same way, almost in the same words, will seem to prove, with the same truth, any thing else, however monstrous. Take, for instance, alphitomancy, that is, divination by barley meal. Now state Lord Brougham's argument over again, only for the word “mind,” substituting the word alphitomancy; and for what Lord Brougham assumes the mind to do, viz. think, remember, feel, &c., substituting what the ancients assumed alphitomancy to do, viz. reveal futurity, foretell coming events, pre-admonish against impending dangers, &c. The argument will then stand thus:-" But that alphitomancy—that the art of divining—that the art or the science which we call alphitomancy, or divination by barley meal, and which reveals futurity, foretells coming events, and pre-admonishes against impending dangers—that this should be a mere vain pretence, a blind superstition, is a contradiction in terms." Now it is perfectly manifestabsolutely self-evident—that the “contradiction in terms" arises as naturally and necessarily out of the argument when applied to alphitomancy as it does when applied to mind; for surely it is a glaring contradiction to admit that alphitomancy can really reveal futurity, and yet to call it a mere vain pretence. This “ contradiction in terms, therefore, on which his lordship relies for proof of the existence of mind, is, if it can prove any thing, equally efficacious to prove that divination by barley-meal is by no means a mere pretence, but a faithful, veritable truth-telling revelation. But it is clear that in stating this argument the author begs the whole question, which is—Has the mind an existence apart from matter? Is it the mind which thinks, feels, reasons? Is it the mind to which we refer when we say “I” and “ We?” These two latter questions are necessarily included in the first, viz. Has the mind an existence? Because, if it have no existence, then it cannot be it which thinks, feels, and reasons; and if it, the mind, do indeed think, feel, and reason, then it must have an existence. But his lordship, in the very statement of his argument, begs the whole of these questions: for he assumes that the mind thinks, feels, and reasons (which assumption, as I have shown above, includes the other assumption, that mind exists)—he assumes that the mind is a “thing or being," that is, an existence, that is, a something which exists :-he assumes that it is to this something, to which we refer when we say “I” and “We,” and then he says, that to deny the existence of this something which exists is a “contradiction in terms.” And so it is a “contradiction in terms,” to say that alphitomancy which reveals futurity is a mere idle pretence ; because if it really does (as this manner of speaking assumes) reveal futurity, then it is impossible that it should be a mere pretence. But the question is, “Does alphitomancy reveal futurity? And so of the mind. The question is not, whether the mind which thinks, feels, and reasons, has an existence: this would be a silly question. The matter in dispute is, whether the mind does think, feel, and reason. For it is manifest, as I must repeat, that, if we be allowed to assume that the mind is a something which performs this or that,-if