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lief, to which sceptics have objected when considered in connexion with our scientific reasonings, are implied in every step we take as active beings; and if called in question by any man in his practical concerns, would expose him universally to the charge of insanity.
In stating this important argument, it were perhaps to be wished, that the subject had been treated with somewhat more of analytical accuracy; and it is certainly to be regretted, that a phrase should have been employed, so well calculated by its ambiguity to furnish a convenient handle to misrepresentations; but in the judgment of those who have perused Dr. Reid's writings with an intelligent and candid attention, these misrepresentations must recoil on their authors; while they who are really interested in the progress of useful science, will be disposed rather to lend their aid in supplying what is defective in his views, than to reject hastily a doctrine which aims, by the developement of some logical principles, overlooked in the absurd systems which have been borrowed from the schools, to vindicate the authority of truths intimately and extensively connected with human happiness.
In the prosecution of my own speculations on the human mind, I shall have occasion to explain myself fully, concerning this as well as various other questions connected with the foundations of philosophical evidence. The new doctrines, and new phraseology on that subject, which have lately become fashionable among some metaphysicians in Germany, and which, in my opinion, have contributed not a little to involve it in additional obscurity, are a sufficient proof, that this essential and fundamental article of logic is not as yet completely exhausted.
In order to bring the foregoing remarks within some compass, I have found it necessary to confine myself to such objections as strike at the root of Dr. Reid's philosophy, without touching on any of his opinions or particular topics, however important. I have been obliged also to compress what I have stated, within narrower limits than were perhaps consistent with complete per
spicuity; and to reject many illustrations which crowded upon me, at almost every step of my progress.
It may not, perhaps, be superfluous to add, that, supposing some of these objections to possess more force than I have ascribed to them in my reply, it will not therefore follow, that little advantage is to be derived from a careful perusal of the speculations against which they are directed. Even they who dissent the most widely from Dr. Reid's conclusions, can scarcely fail to admit, that as a writer he exhibits a striking contrast to the most successful of his predecessors, in a logical precision and simplicity of language; his statement of facts being neither vitiated by physiological hypothesis, nor obscured by scholastic mystery. Whoever has reflected on the infinite importance, in such inquiries, of a skilful use of words as the essential instrument of thought, must be aware of the influence which his works are likely to have on the future progress of science; were they to produce no other effect than a general imitation of his mode of reasoning, and of his guarded phraseology.
It is not indeed every reader to whom these inquiries are accessible ; for habits of attention in general, and still more habits of attention to the phenomena of thought, require early and careful cultivation : but those who are capable of the exertion, will soon recognise, in Dr. Reid's statements, the faithful history of their own minds, and will find their labors amply rewarded by that satisfaction which always accompanies the discovery of useful truth. They may expect, also, to be rewarded by some intellectual acquisitions not altogether useless in their other studies. An author well qualified to judge, from his own experiènce, of whatever conduces to invigorate or to embellish the understanding, has beautifully remarked, that “ by turning the soul inward on itself, its forces are concentred, and are fitted for stronger and bolder flights of science; and that, in such pursuits,
; whether we take or whether we lose the game, the chase is certainly of service.” * In this respect, the
* Preface to Mr. Burke's Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful.
philosophy of the mind, abstracting entirely from that pre-eminence which belongs to it in consequence of its practical applications, may claim a distinguished rank among those preparatory disciplines, which another writer of equal talents has happily compared to "the crops which are raised, not for the sake of the harvest, but to be ploughed in as a dressing to the land.”
Conclusion of the Narrative.
THE three works to which the foregoing remarks refer, together with the Essay on Quantity, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, and a short but masterly Analysis of Aristotle's Logic, which forms an appendix to the third volume of Lord Kaimes's Sketches, comprehend the whole of Dr. Reid's publications. The interval between the dates of the first and last of these amounts to no less than forty years, although he had attained to the age of thirty-eight before he ventured to appear as an author.
With the Essays on the Active Powers of Man, he closed his literary career; but he continued, notwithstanding, to prosecute his studies with unabated ardor and activity. The more modern improvements in chemistry attracted his particular notice; and he applied him'self, with his wonted diligence and success, to the study of its new theories and new nomenclature. He amused himself also, at times, in preparing for a philosophical society, of which he was a member, short essays on particular topics, which happened to interest his curiosity, and on which he thought he might derive useful hints from friendly discussion. The most important of these were, An Examination of Priestley's Opinions concerning Matter and Mind; Observations on the Utopia of
* Bishop Berkeley's Querist.
Sir Thomas More; and Physiological Reflections on Muscular Motion. This last essay appears to have been written in the eighty-sixth year of his age, and was read by the author to his associates, a few months before his death. “ His thoughts were led to the speculations it contains," as he himself mentions in the conclusion, “by the experience of some .of the effects which old age produces on the muscular motions.”
“ As they were occasioned, therefore,” he adds, “by the infirmities of age, they will, I hope be heard with the greater indulgence.
Among the various occupations with which he thus enlivened his retirement, the mathematical pursuits of his earlier years held a distinguished place. He delighted to converse about them with his friends; and often exercised his skill in the investigation of particular problems. ; His knowledge of ancient geometry had not probably been, at any time, very extensive; but he had cultivated diligently those parts of mathematical science which are subservient to the study of Sir Isaac Newton's Works. He had a predilection, more particularly, for researches requiring the aid of arithmetical calculation, in the practice of which he possessed uncommon expertness and address. I think, I have sometimes observed in him a slight and amiable vanity connected with this accomplishment.
The revival, at this period of Dr. Reid's life, of his first scientific propensity, has often recalled to me a remark of Mr. Smith's, that of all the amusements of old age, the most grateful and soothing is a renewal of acquaintance with the favorite studies, and favorite authors of our youth; a remark which, in his own case, seemed to be more particularly exemplified, while he was re-perusing, with the enthusiasm of a student, the tragic poets of ancient Greece. I heard him at least, repeat the observation more than once, while Sophocles or Euripides lay open on his table.
In the case of Dr. Reid, other motives, perhaps, conspired with the influence of the agreeable associations, to which Mr. Smith probably alluded. His attention was always fixed on the state of his intellectual faculties; and
for counteracting the effects of time on these, mathematical studies seem to be fitted in a peculiar degree. They are fortunately, too, within the reach of many individuals, after a decay of memory disqualifies them for inquiries which involve a multiplicity of details. Such detached problems, more especially, as Dr. Reid commonly selected for his consideration; problems where all the data are brought at once under the eye, and where a connected train of thinking is not to be carried on from day to day; will be found, as I have witnessed with pleasure in several instances, by those who are capable of such a recreation, a valuable addition to the scanty resources of a life protracted beyond the ordina
While he was thus enjoying an old age, happy in some respects beyond the usual lot of humanity, his domestic comfort suffered a deep and incurable wound by the death of Mrs. Reid. He had had the misfortune, too, of surviving, for many years, a numerous family of promising children; four of whom, two sons and two daughters, died after they attained to maturity. One daughter only was left to him when he lost his wife; and of her affectionate good offices he could not always avail himself, in consequence of the attentions which her own husband's infirmities required. Of this lady, who is still alive, the widow of Patrick Carmichael, M. D.,* I shall have occasion again to introduce the name, before I conclude this narrative.
A short extract from a letter addressed to myself by Dr. Reid, not many weeks after his wife's death, will, I ám persuaded, be acceptable to many, as an interesting relic of the writer.
By the loss of my bosom-friend, with whom I lived fifty-two years, I am brought into a kind of new world, at a time of life when old habits are not easily forgot, or new ones acquired. But every world is God's world, and I am thankful for the comforts he has left me. Mrs.
* A learned and worthy physician, who, after a long residence in Holland, where he practised medicine, retired to Glasgow. He was a younger son of Professor Gerschom Carmichael, who published about the year 1720, an edition of Puffendorf, De Officio Hominis et Civis, and who is pronounced by Dr. Hutcheson," by far the best commentator on that book.” .VOL. VII.