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of expressions, which from the relation they bear to its char. racter, enlarge it more and more ; and analogy becomes as. it were a lamp, whose light continually increases, to direct a greater number of writers. Then the public eye is natusally fixed on those who distinguisḥ themselves from the crowd: the taste of these becomes the prevailing taste of the nation : each person in the several subjects to which he ap. plies himself, uses that discernment which he learnt of those ingenious persons : abilities begin to ferment: the several arts assume their proper character; and men of superior merit in every branch of learning make their appearance, Tbus it is that great parts, of what kind foever, do not fhew themselves till a language is considerably improved. Thiş is so very true, that though such circumstances as favour the military and political arts, occur the most frequent, yet it is those ages which have been distinguished for great wris ters, that are able to boast of generals and ministers of a superior ránk. Such is the influence of letters over govern ment; an influence whose full extent does not seem as yet to have been rightly understood.
The work concludes with an enquiry into the cause of error, and the origin of truth ; matters, doubtless, of the utmost importance to all mankind. The cause of error, Mr, Condillac justly observes, must be the habitude of reasoning on things of which we have either no ideas at all, or such as are very indeterminate : if error, therefore, owes its original to the defect of ideas, or to ideas not properly determined, truth must arise from determinate ideas. The best method of determining our ideas is to render our language clear and precise, which, in our author's opinion, can only be done by taking the materials of our knowledge once more in hand, and framing new combinations of them, without any regard to those already made.
If a man was to begin with framing a language, and determined not to enter into any conversation, till he had fixed the meaning of his words by particular circumstances, he would not fall into those mistakes to which we are so
generally subject. The names of simple ideas would be clear, because they would signify only what he perceived in particular circumstances : the names of complex ideas would be precise, because they would include only such simple ideas as by particular circumstances would be collected in a determinate manner. In a word, if he wanted to add to, or retrench from his first combinations, the signs he made use of, would preserve the clearness of the former, provided that what he had added or retrenched was marked by new circumstances. If he had afterwards a mind to converfe with others, he would have occafion only to place them in the same situation as he himself had been, when he invented the signs, which would engage them to affix the fame ideas as he had done to the words.
What the Abbé here remarks concerning the difference of substances and architypes, is worthy the perusal of our readers. He then treats of the order which we ought to follow in the investigation of truth, where he observes, that to acquire complex notions, our only method, as in the mathematics, is to make different collections of the simple ideas. We must therefore follow the same order in the progression of ideas, and use the fame precaution in the choice of figns. The right order therefore which we ought to pursue in the investigation of truth, consists in ascending to the origin of our ideas, in unravelling their formation, and in compounding or decompounding them different ways, in order to compare them in every light that is capable of shewing their relations.
? I really believe (says the Abbé) that if we rightly comprehended the progression of truths, we fhould have no need to • look for arguments to demonstrate them, the bare proposing them being sufficient; for they would follow one another in such order, that whatever a subsequent truth added to ! that which preceded, would be too simple to have need of any
demonstration. Thus we should arrive at those which are more complex, and be surer of them than by any other way.
We might even establish so great a subordination between • the several ideas we had acquired, as to be able to pass, * when we pleased, from the most complex to the most simple,
or from the most simple to the most complex. We could hardly indeed forget them; or if this fhould happen, the • connexion subsisting between them, would render them easy • to be retrieved.
• In a word, (says our author) whatever contributes to the * enlarging of the mind, may, I think, be brought into this + short compass. The senses are the source of human know* Iedge. The different sensations, perception, consciousness, • reminiscence, attention and imagination, the two last con< fidered as not yet subject to our controul, are its materials :
memory, imagination, as subject to controul, reflexion, and • the other operations, employ these materials : the signs to
which we are indebted for the habit of thefe very operations, • are the instruments they make use of: and the connexion of
ideas is the first fpring which puts all the rest into motion. • 1 fhall finish with proposing the following problem. An * author's work being given, to determine the character and ex* tent of his understanding, and in consequence thereof to tell not
only the talents of which he gives proofs, but likewise those which . he is capable of acquiring : to take, for instance, Corneille's earliest performance, and to demonstrate that, when this poet wrote it, he was already posessed of, or at least would soon acquire those bright parts by which he merited such high applause. Nothing but an analysis of the work is capable of shewing e us the operations that produced it, and how far they were * exerted; and nothing but the analysis of these operations can ( make us distinguish the qualifications compatible in the same • man, from those which are otherwise, and thereby enable us " to give a solution to the problem. I question whether there
many problems more difficult than this. Thus ends Mr. Condillac's essay on the origin of human knowledge, a work of merit sufficient to excuse the extraordinary length of our extracts from it. We are satisfied that in a performance of this nature, to quote only a few particular paffages may be looked on as scarce doing justice to the author, and that to abridge is to injure. More, however, we cou'd not lay before our readers, consistently with the plan of this work; and less would have been insufficient to give them a full and precife idea of it.
ART. II. The Life of John Buncle, Esq; containing various
Observations and Reflections, made in several parts of the · World; and many extraordinary Relations. Svo. Price. 6s.
R. John Buncle, who, we are afraid, hath promised
more than he was able to perform, alinres his readers, in the preface to this performance, that they will find in it some pleasing and some surprising things: the latter of which he hath fully accomplished; but seems, at least in our opinion, to have deferr'd the former to another opportunity, as we could not, on the most careful perusal, meet with any thing that gave us the least pleasure throughout the whole. The book is a very thick octavo, consisting of no less than 511 pages (a dreadful prospect to the poor REVIEWERS) and contains a detail of trifling uninteresting facts, many of them highly improbable, and related by the author merely to introduce (which seems the chief motive of it's publication) fome crude and undigested notions concerning several controversial points of religion, which are handled without judgment or knowledge by Miss Noel, Miss Harcourt, Bob Berrisford, Jack Buncle, and. other illustrious personages of the drama : by a toe or two of this Hercules, our readers will be able to determine the beauty. of the statue, For an instance of the flowery stile take the following;
? On the glorious first of August, before the beasts were roused from their lodges, or the birds had foared upwards, to pour ' forth their morning harmony; while the mountains and the
groves were overshadowed by 4 dun obscurity, and the dawn • ftill dappled the drowsy east with spots of grey; in short,
before the fun was up, or, with his auspicious presence, began to animate inferior nature, I left my chamber, and with my gun and dog, went out to wander over a pleasant country. The different aspects and the various points of view
were charming, as the light in fleecy rings increased ; and when the whole flood of day descended, the imbellished early scene was a fine entertainment. Delighted with the • beauties of this morning, I climbed up the mountains, and travelled through many a valley. The game was plenty,
6 and for full five hours, I journeyed onward, without know*ing where I was going, or thinking of a return to college.
About nine o'clock however I began to grow very hungry, "&c.' His manner of introducing the conversation with Miss Noel, concerning the Hebrew language, is likewise curious.
“You will be pleased to inform me, how Abraham and his <fons conversed and commerced with the nations, if the He. • brew was not the universal language in their time? If the 6 miracle at Babel was a confusion of tongues, as is generally fupposed, how did the holy family talk and act with such dir
tant kings and people ? Illuminate me, thou glorious girl in • this dark article, and be my teacher in Hebrew learning, as • I fatter myself you will be the guide and dirigent of all my • notions and my days. Yes, charming Harriot, my fate is
in your hands. Dispose of it as you will, and make me what * you please.'
If the reader is desirous to know Miss Narl's opinion of Cherubim and Elohim, it is as follows; To talk of Cherubim and * Elohim (resumed Miss Noel) and to fay all that ought to be said • (to speak to any purpofe) of the three heads and four visages, • the bull, the man, the lyon, and the eagle, mentioned in the
prophet, requires more knowledge in Hebrew learning than • I pretend to be miftress of, and must take up more time than
there is now to spare. I may hereafter however, if you fhould • chance to come again to our house, let you know my fancies upon these grand subjects, and why I cannot accord with Mr.
Hutchinson and my father, in their notion of the Cherubim's • signifying the unity of the essence, the distinction of the persons, • and man's being taken into the essence by his personal union
with the second person, whose constant emblem was the lyon. • This I confess appears to my plain understanding very miser• able stuff. I can see no text either in the Old Testament, or • in the New, for a plurality of Beings, co-ordinate and inde* pendent. The sacred pages declare there is One original per• felt mind. The Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that
day there shall be one Lord, and his name One ; says the pro‘phet Zechariah, speaking of the prodigious revolution in the • Gentile world, whence in process of time, by the gospel of · Fisus Chri?, the worship of one true God shall prevail all over the earth, as universally as polytheism had done before.