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they are much more so; for Reason discerns Truth itself, the absolutely and primitively True ; while Understanding discerns only relations, and cannot decide without if. The proper province of Understanding is all, strictly speaking, real, practical, and material knowledge ; Mathematics, Physics, Political Economy, the adaptation of means to ends in the whole business of life. In this province it is the strength and universal implement of the mind; an indispensable servant, without which, indeed, existence itself would be impossible. Let it not step beyond this province, however, not usurp the province of Reason, which it is appointed to obey, and cannot rule over, without ruin to the whole spiritual man. Should Understanding attempt to prove the existence of God, it ends, if thoroughgoing and consistent with itself, in Atheism or a faint possible Theism, which scarcely differs from this; should it speculate of Virtue, it ends in Utility, making Prudence and a sufficiently cunning love of Self the highest good. Consult Understanding about the Beauty of Poetry, and it asks, where is this Beauty ? or discovers it at length in rhythms and fitnesses, and male and female rhymes. Witness also its everlasting paradoxes on the Necessity and Freedom of the Will; its ominous silence on the end and meaning of man; and the enigma which, under such inspection, the whole purport of existence becomes.
Nevertheless, say the Kantists, there is a truth in these things. Virtue is Virtue and not Prudence; not less surely than the angle in a semicircle is a right angle, and no trapezium : Shakspeare is a Poet, and Boileau is none, think of it as you may: neither is it more certain that I myself exist, than that God exists, infinite, eternal, invisible, the same yesterday, to day, and for ever.
To discern these truths is the province of Reason, which iherefore is to be cultivated as the highest faculty in man. Not by logic and argument does it work ; yet surely and clearly may it be taught to work : and its domain lies in that higher region whither logic and argument cannot reach ; in that bolier region, where Poetry, and Virtue, and Divinity abide, in whose presence Understanding wavers and recoils, dazzled into utter darkness by that “ sea of light," at once the fountain and the termination of all true knowledge,
Will the Kantists forgive us for the loose and popular manner in which we must here speak of these things, to bring them in any measure before the eyes of our readers ?-It may illustrate this distinction still farther, il we say that, in the opinion of a Kantist, the French are of all European nations the most gifted with Understanding, and the most destitute of Reason ;* that David Hume had no forecast of this latter, and that Shakspeare and Luther dwelt perennially in its purest sphere.
of the vast, nay in these days boundless, importance of this distinction, could it be scientifically established, we need remind no thinking man. For the rest, far be it from the reader to suppose that this same Reason is but a new appearance, under another name, of our own old “Wholesome Prejudice,” so well known to most of us! Prejudice, wholesome or unwholesome, is a personage for whom the German Philosophers disclaim all shadow of respect ; nor do the vehement among them hide their deep disdain for all and sundry who fight under her flag. Truth is to be loved purely and solely because it is true. With moral, political, religious considerations, high and dear as they may otherwise be, the Philosopher as such has no concern. To look at them would but perplex him, and distract his vision from the task in his hands. Calmly he constructs bis theorem, as the Geometer does his, without hope or fear, save that he may or may not find the solution; and stands in the middle, by the one, it may be, accused as an Infidel, by the other as an Enthusiast and a Mystic, till the tumult ceases, and what was true is and continues true to the end of all time.
* Schelling has said as much or more (Methode des Academischen Studium, pp. 105-11I), in terms which we could wish we had space to transeribe.
Such are some of the high and momentous questions treated of, by calm, earnest, and deeply meditative men, in this system of Philosophy, which to the wiser minds among us is still unknown, and by the unwiser is spoken of and regarded as their nature requires. The profoundness, subtlety, extent of investigation, which the answer of these questions presupposes, need not be farther pointed out. With the truth or falsehood of the system we have here, as already stated, no concern : our aim has been, so far as might be done, to show it as it appeared to us : and to ask such of our readers as pursue these studies, whether this also is not worthy of some study? The reply we must now leave to themselves.
As an appendage to the charge of Mysticism brought against the Germans, there is often added the seemingly incongruous one of Irreligion. On this point also we had much to say ; but must for the present decline it. Meanwhile, let the reader be assured, that to the charge of Irreligion, as to so many others, the Germans will plead not guilty. On the contrary, they will not scruple to assert that their literature is, in a positive sense, religious; nay, perhaps to maintain, that if ever neighbouring nations are to recover that pure and high spirit of devotion, the loss of which, however we may disguise it or pretend to overlook it, can be hidden from no observant mind, it must be by travelling, if not on the same path, at least in the same direction, in which the Germans have already begun to travel. We shall add, that the Religion of Germany is a subject not for slight but for deep study, and, if we mistake not, may in some degree reward the deepest.
Here, however, we must close our examination or defence. We have spoken freely, because we felt distinctly, and thought the matter worthy of being stated, and more fully inquired into. Farther than this, we have no, quarrel for the Germans : we would have justice done to them, as to all men and all things; but for their literature or character, we profess no sectarian or exclusive preference. We think their recent Poetry, indeed, superior to the recent poetry of any other nation ; but, taken as a whole, inferior to that of several ; inferior not to our own only, bul lo that of Italy, nay, perhaps to that of Spain. Their Philosophy, 100, must still be regarded as uncertain; at best only the beginning of belter things. But surely even this is not to be neglected. A little light is precious in great darkness; nor amid the myriads of Poetasters and Philosophes, are Poels and Philosophers so numerous that we should reject such, when they speak to us in the hard, but manly, deep, and expressive tones of that old Saxon speech, which is also our mother-tongue.
We confess, the present aspect of spiritual Europe might fill a melancholic observer with doubt and foreboding. It is mournful to see so many noble, tender, and high-aspiring minds deserted of that religious light which once guided all such ; standing sorrowful on the scene of past convulsions and controversies, as on a scene blackened and burnt up with fire; mourning in the darkness, because there is desolation, and no home for the soul; or, what is worse, pilching lents among the ashes, and kindling weak earthly lamps, which we are to take for slars. This darkness is but tran
sitory obscuration; these ashes are the soil of future herbage and richer harvests. Religion, Poetry, is not dead; it will never die. Its dwelling and birthplace is in the soul of man, and it is eternal as the being of man. In any point of Space, in any section of Time, let there be a living Man; and there is an Infinitude above him and beneath him, and an Eternity encompasses him on this hand and on that; and tones of Sphere-music, and tidings from loftier Worlds, will flit round him, if he can but listen, and visit him with holy influences, even in the thickest press of trivialities, or the din of busiest life. Happy the man, happy the nation, that can hear these tidings; that has them written in fit characters, legible to every eye, and the solemo import of them present at all moments to every heart ! That there is, in these days, no nation so happy, is too clear; but that all nations, and ourselves in the van, are, with more or less discernment of its nature, struggling towards this happiness, is the hope and the glory of our time. To us, as to others, success, at a distant or a nearer day, cannot be uncertain. Meanwhile, the first condition of success is, that in striving honestly ourselves, we honestly acknowledge the striving of our neighbour; that wilh a Will unwearied in seeking Truth, we have a Sense open for it, wheresoever and howsoever it may arise.*
PROGRESS OF ENGLISH HISTORICAL WRITING.+
Though England ranks probably next to Germany in the richness of her historical collections, and particularly in published records and authentic materials, the progress of historical literature, in its higher departments, might long be considered rather slow, when compared with the general taste for learning, the freedom of our government, and the national pride with which we have venerated our forefathers. Italy had produced a long line of historians, some of extraordinary merit; Spain, a few, according to the proportion of her literature ; France, several, who, though belonging to the order of chroniclers and memoir-writers, retain their place in the library and in public estimation, before any one had appeared in this country who is at this time either approved or even remembered. This was unquestionably owing, in the first instance, to the slower cultivation of the English language; but other circumstances appear to have concurred, to which we may presently advert. A short sketch of what has hitherto been written in the way of English history, confining ourselves, however, to the vernacular language, or translations into it, will be no improper commencement of this article on the latest work which has been published on the subject.
Among the earliest fruits that now remain of the application of the English tongue to purposes of instruction, is Trevisa's translation of the Poly
A critical examination of all that has been written in the Edinburgh Review on the subject of German Literature and Philosophy would enable the reader to detect many glaring discrepancies. The contributions were obviously from different writers; and, it must be acknowledged, not all possessed of equal information and ability. See Vol. vi. page 243. Vol. xxvi, pages 67 and 304. Vol. xlii. page 409. Vol. xliii. page 107. In the Review of Madame de Staël's Germany, a profound and brilliant article, the production of a master-mind, i here are some admirable remarks on the character and progress of German Literature. Vol. xvii. page 199. See also a Review of Taylor's Historic Survey of German Poetry. Vol. liii. p. 151.
* A History of England, from the Jnvasion by the Romans. By John Lingard, D.D. Eight rols. 410. London, 1819-1830.-Vol. liii. page 1. March, 1831.
chronicon of Ranulph Higden, a monk of Chester. The original work is a farrago of all events whereof the author had read, from the creation of the world to the year 1357; the latter part relating chiefly to the contemporaneous annals of England. This chronicle, either on account of its miscellaneous and comprehensive nature, or from the circumstance of its being translated into English, has, more than any other, supplied the canvass for our general history. Trevisa's translation of Higden was printed by Caxton in 1483, with a continuation by himself, from the year 1357 to 1160. In the preface to this, our venerable printer complains of the almost total want of materials, so that he had been forced to rely on two books published in Germany, and now very obscure. It is hardly necessary to say, that better materials existed in manuscript; but it was not reasonable to expect that he should desist from his valuable labours to procure them. Another book, commonly called Caxton's Chronicles, and printed by him in 1480, is written by one Douglas, a monk of Glastonbury, and contains partly a version, partiy a continuation, of Geoffrey of Monmouth, brought down to the accession of Edward IV. This chronicle, under the name of Caxton, w more than once reprinted; but is now so obscure as well as so brief and unsatisfactory, that we should not have thought of naming it, except as the earliest English publication upon our history.
Robert Fabyan, an Alderman of London, and member of the Draper's Company, may be reckoned, with more justice, the father of English historians. His “ New Chronicles of England and France” were first published in 1516, which seems to have been four years after his death. They were several times reprinted ; and a valuable edition was given to the world, in 1811, by Mr. Ellis of the British Museum. Fabyan shows himself a zealous Catholic, which caused some phrases to be suppressed in editions subsequent to the Reformation, and as good a citizen of London as his ward could desire; heading the annals of each year with the names of the mayor and sheriffs, as Livy begins those of Rome with the consuls, and communicating many little particulars about the city, which at present form the most original part of his volume. For his more general materials he had mainly recourse lo lligden, but consulted likewise a good many Latin and French authors, so that his name deserves to be held in respect; and his chronicle, though it would be absurd to recommend its perusal, remains a monument of honest diligence, especially praiseworthy in one of his occupation in life, and, as there is reason to believe, of affluent fortune.
In the long reign of Henry VIII, nothing more seems to have come from the press, to our present purpose, than Rastell's Pastime of People, a most jejune epitome of English history; which, on account of its extreme scarceness, and also of certain wooden cuts, which were supposed too ugly to be lost, has, within the last twenty years, been republished by Dr. Dibdin; lo which may be added, a Chronicle by Cooper, afterwards a bishop, and one or two more mentioned in Nicolson's Historical Library. But, in 1548, the second year of Edward VI., a far more important accession was made to this branch of our literature, in the Chronicle of Thomas Hall, or, according to the original titlepage, “The Union of the two Noble and Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York.” This began with the accession of Henry IV., in 1399, and ended with the death of Henry VIII. Hall himself died
year before the publicalion. Robert Grafton, an eminent printer, not only performed the office of an editor, but compiled, from Hall's manuscripts, the annals of about fifteen years. It is singular, that the last editor
of Ames's Typographical Antiquities, copying apparently his immediate predecessor, should have said—“He (Grafton) tells us himself that he wrote the greater part of Hall's Chronicles, but without particularizing how much.” Grafton is not only more precise than is here represented, but his precision entirely contradicts the editor's statement. The author thereof,” he says, in his address to the reader, “was a man in the latter lime of his life, nol so painful and studious as before he had been; wherefore, he perfected and writ this history no farther than to the four-and-twentieth year
of King Henry the Eighth ; the rest he left noted in divers and many pamphlets and papers, which, so diligently and truly as I could, I gathered the same together, and have, in such wise, compiled them, as may after the said years appear in this work, but utterly without any addition of mine."
Bishop Nicolson observes of Hall, “ If the reader desires to know what sort of clothes were worn in each king's reign, and how the fashions altered, this is an historian for his purpose ; but in other matters his information is not so valuable."* This sentence is, in our opinion, by much too sweeping and novel. We do not perceive that Hall has any great excess of that petty information that the Bishop derides as so trilling, though it is not without its use for several purposes; but a little more candour and allention would have shown him, ihai a considerable proportion of the knowledge we possess as to the internal history of England during the reigns of Ilenry VII. and Henry VIII. is due to this respectable chronicler, who has been largely copied by those who followed. It would be hard to say whom else we could vouch for the narrative of the different rebellions and insurrections under Henry VII., or for the tumultuous resistance of the citizens and commons to the illegal encroachments of Wolsey. The truth of these facts is confirmed by contemporary letters and authentic records; but such documents rarely furnish the whole circumstances of a transaction, as we find them collected by the historian. Polydore Virgil, the only other writer who can be called original, is much inferior to Hall in credibility. The character of Hall is that of an honest and fearless simplicity, wherein it was very long before any one was found to equal him; if indeed, considering the change of times, it can be said that he ever had an equal.
We ought, perhaps, sooner to have mentioned the celebrated “Pitisul Life of King Edward the Filib,” by Sir Thomas More. But we have not been able to satisfy ourselves, without pretending, however, to have made a laborious search, as to the date of its earliest publication. It is printed in the folio edition of his works by Rastell, in 1557. But we also find it inserted verbatim in Hall's Chronicle, published, as has been said above, in 1548. Whether Hall, or bis edilor Grafton, had preserved the manuscript, or whether there is some earlier edition wbich we have not been able to trace, more learned antiquarians will determine. Nonc is mentioned in Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, containing a long list of the works that came from the presses of all known printers in that age, and especially of Rastell, brother-in-law of More: it seems plain also, from the historic doubts of Horace Walpole, that he did not know when the book was first published. We may add, that the marginal note in Hall rather leads us to presume, that the work of More then appeared for the first time. However this may be, it was probably written in More's youth, while he was under-sheriff of London : its composition has been referred by some to the
Nicolson's Ibist. Library, p. 71.