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we for deciding between them? They of the subject, and may be paired off may have had conteniporary documents with this other saying of his, ' A friend as their authorities ; but what guarantee is one soul in two bodies.' When asked have we for the accuracy of these docu. how we should behave towards friends? ments? It is but just three hundred he said, “ As we should wish them to be. years since Shakespeare was born ; have towards us. throughout this period he has been prized and written about ; compilers
One of the last and most conhave done their worst upon this subject; spicuous incidents of his life apyet what do we authentically know of pears to corroborate this impreshis life? Above all, what value do we sion of his affectionate character. attach to the earliest biography, that of
When, upon the death of AlexanRowe?"
der, the Macedonian party in Athens What can a modern Englishman lost their power, and Aristotle, who do but accept such of the facts as belonged to this party, was exposed appear to him probable and cohe- to the malice of his enemies, the rent? That Aristotle was, in the worst charge these could bring language of our times, a gentleman against him was, that he had paid of birth and fortune, who, simply divine honours to his wife and to from an ardent love of knowledge, his friend. He had burned the one devoted himself to philosophy ; and raised a statue to the other in that, born at Stagira, a town of a too sacred manner, or too sacred northern Greece, situated in what locality — thus infringing on the is now called the Gulf of Contezza, rights and privileges of the gods. he migrated to Athens, the intellec- In liberal and enlightened Athens, tual capital of Greece and of the if a man was to be destroyed, the world, where Plato was then teach- surest way was to represent him as ing; that, after many years of labo- a profane person-a despiser of the rious application, his reputation was gods; to accuse him, in fact, of irresuch that it brought an invitation ligion, or heresy of some kind. An from Philip of Macedon to under- incautious or too ambitious testitake the education of the young mony of affection was the impiety Alexander—are facts, we presume, alleged against our philosopher. . that we may accept without dis- He retired, we are told, before trust. There is one trait of charac- the coming storm. Mindful of the ter ascribed to Aristotle which we death of Socrates, he refused to hope also we may believe in : this the Athenians a second opportunity great thinker, one of the most in- of disgracing the republic. defatigable and powerful of the Mr Lewes opens his criticism on class that has lived upon the earth, the science of Aristotle with the
a tender and warm-hearted following general account of his man, capable of love and of ardent
“The physical writings of Aristotle “His health,” says Mr Lewes in that still extant are the eight books of general summary of personal details Physics,' the four books On the which make up for us the picture of a Heavens,' the two books on “Generaman, was, like that of most ardent tion and Corruption,' with the “Meteobrain-workers, delicate. He was short rology' and the Mechanical Problems.' and slender in person ; he had small The contents of these works very slighteyes and an affected lisp. Somewhat ly correspond with their titles, accordgiven to sarcasm in conversation, he ing to modern conceptions. The sciences made, of course, many enemies. On which we class under the heads of Phyhearing that some one had vituperated sics and Astronomy are in no sense rehim in his absence, he humorously presented in them. There is no atsaid, “If he pleases, he may beat me tempt to sketch the laws of Statics, too—in my absence.' His heart was Dynamics, Optics, Acoustics, Thermokind, as was manifest in certain acts, tics, or Electricity. There is nothing and is expressed in this saying, “He beyond metaphysical disquisitions sug. who has many friends has no friends,' gested by certain physical phenomena; which profoundly touches the very core wearisoine disputes about motion, space,
infinity, and the like; verbal distinc. Aristotle and his contemporaries tions, loose analogies, unhesitating as brought to the study of nature. sumptions, inexpressibly fatiguing and Men of acute intellect, eager to give unfruitful. They have furnished matter for centuries of idle speculation, but
an explanation of all things, applied few beams of steady light to aid the
at once to the phenomena before groping endeavours of science. We them some abstraction or generalcannot say that in every point he is isation ready made in the language altogether wrong-on some points he of daily use. They should have occuwas assuredly right; but these are few, pied themselves, we are apt to say, isolated, without bearing on the rest of with the collection of facts; they his speculations, and without influence on research. I shall therefore analyse should have formed generalisations these works much more rapidly and
from this careful observation of facts, briefly than the works on Biology.” and then proceeded to reason on these
generalisations, verifying their inWe are thus inducted into some
ferences at each step by fresh apof those earlier doctrines, or me- peals to observation and experithods of thinking upon physical ment. Such is the true method topics, which belong not exclu- of science. But we perceive very sively, indeed, to Aristotle, but to clearly that the generalisations from the age in which he lived. We are
which the man of science permits taught the principle of Contraries, himself to reason deductively (beonce a theme of learned disquisi- cause originally formed from caretion throughout Europe
ful induction) were not then in exist“ There are,” says_Aristotle, “ three ence, and could not have been then principles: Matter, Form, and Priva- in existence. Were these men to be tion. In every phenomenon we can dis- silent ? If it is said they should tinguish the substance and its form; but have occupied themselves with obas the form can be only one of two con
servation and experiment, the antraries, and as only one of these two can exist at each moment, we are forced to
swer is at hand : No men ever did, admit the existence of a third principle,
or could, pursue to advantage a Privation, to account for the contrary train of observation or experiment, which is absent. Thus a man must be unless under the guidance of some either a musician or a non-musician; hypothesis or conjecture. There is he cannot be both at the same time :
some guess of their own they seek and that which prevents his being one
to establish, or guess of others they of these is the privation of the form.”
seek to overthrow. Conjecture and Then we have a definition of na- experiment must at all times proture as the principle of Motion ceed together. These early sages
. and Rest;' and of Movements it is were to blame, not so much for what added, that “those are called na- they did, as what they left undone. tural which are self-moved." Fur- They conjectured much and experither on we are told that there are mented little : but it was two great classes of movements- thing to conjecture; the rest of 1. The natural; and, 2. The violent or the world neither observed nor conunnatural. Fire ascends and a stone jectured. descends by natural movement. A The false method of the Greek stone may be made to ascend, but philosopher did not consist in any this is owing to violence. Some theoretical neglect of observation. external motor causes it to ascend; He knew the value of a fact as well by its natural movement the stone as his modern successor; but he would never rise, but always fall. lived at a time when those generalisaFor a similar reason, fire may be tions formed by careful observation made to descend; but, left to its na- had not yet been made. He himtural movement, it will only ascend. self might be helping to make them,
We have in these few passages but as yet they were not. What a fair specimen of that mode of could he do but avail himself of thought, or false method, which such ideas or generalisations as an
uncritical experience had produced, series of events perpetually occurand which, perhaps, were incorpo- ring around us, we select those rated into the very language of daily which are unalterably united in use ? Gravity, or the attraction of never-failing sequence, or relation of matter to matter, is a generalisation cause and effect, and classify them of modern science; it is formed apart from those whose connection from induction or observation, and is not invariable. And now let us we permit ourselves, therefore, to ask, what motive or passion it is reason on it with confidence. It
that prompts to observation of this enters into our explanation of this subtle kind ? It is not our daily or that still perplexing phenomenon. wants or appetites. These may The principle of contraries was the greedily seize upon knowledge of a result of no careful induction ; it scientific kind, which they can make was snatched up in haste. Heat subservient to them; they do not drives out cold, and cold heat. originally lead to it. Science oriWas there not a principle here of ginates in that noble curiosity with universal application ? So amongst which men, or at least some men, motions of inanimate bodies were are endowed the desire to undernot some natural, just as certain stand all, to see all as with the eye of motions in our own organism are intellect; to harmonise what seems felt to be natural ? It was a rude confused; to representto themselves analogy-an unauthorised general- the whole in its completeness. And isation.
now one question more, Would you The difference between the false check this curiosity till all legitimate method and the true is the inevit- appliances were ready for its gratiable result of position in the course fication; would you prevent it from of time, or process of development. asking questions and giving anThe modern man of science reasons swers till it had been strictly defrom generalisations which are the monstrated what kind of questions results of a hitherto universal expe- were to be asked, and how precisely rience; but, waiting the formation the answer was to be obtained? of these, the earlier sage reasoned Manifestly such restrictions, instead on something which was the result of leading to a more rapid progress of a scanty experience or a fanciful in knowledge, would have rendered analogy. He had nothing better to all effort and all development im
possible; they would have killed What, let us ask ourselves, is the at once the noble curiosity we are kind of observation on which science speaking of. Honour to those who, is founded, or with which science stimulated by this generous passion, commences? It is not the mere use persisted energetically to think, in of our senses, or the mere percep- the full confidence that finally the tion of objects. Nor do we call by human intellect would triumph over the name of Science that practical all difficulties. knowledge of the qualities of things Proceeding in our analysis, we so essential to life, as that fire burns, come upon a curious notion relative or food nourishes. Such knowledge to motion in a vacuum :as the senses directly give us lies,
“Aristotle argues that in vacuo mowe need not say, at the basis of all
tion is impossible. In a void there can science, but is not science itself.
be no difference of place; and motion There are two kinds of observation
implies difference of place. He then on which science depends : 1st, adds, that projectiles continue moving When we detect similarities between after the original motor ceases to be in things or events which at first sight
contact with them, 'either, as some say, appeared widely different, and thus
by reaction, or by the motion of the moved air.
Moreover,' he establish an essential identity where
adds, 'no one can say why, in vacuo, a only diversity had presented it- body once set in motion should ever stop; self; and, 2d, When, amongst the since why rather here than there? Con
sequently, it must rather remain in ne- which he elsewhere discourses in a cessary rest, or, if in motion, in endless mysterious manner. Mr Lewes, it motion, unless some stronger interferes.'
will be seen, adheres to the more Aristotle lived before the air- generous interpretation, and underpump had enabled us to produce a stands Aristotle to mean what a vacuum, and, speculating only on modern lecturer would mean ; in motion through the air, he found describing a larger circle, the weight in the pulses of the air itself a or force would be acting a longer cause for continuous motion. The time. mode of reasoning was natural To abridge Mr Lewes's analysis enough. There is much of this is no part of our task. Neither kind of ingenious error in the could it be abridged with any prophysics of Aristotle. But if we do priety. The reader who is internot blame, neither can we be called ested at all in the subject will upon to admire.
never find it too long. But we Aristotle missed our modern doc- shall continue to select a few specitrine of inertia, or rather our doc- mens from it, both to illustrate the trine that every change demands a Aristotelian mode of thinking, and cause (according to which a moving also to test some of the startling body would move on for ever if eulogies which even such men as nothing intervened to arrest or re- Cuvier and St Hilaire have betard its motion), but he is credited stowed upon the mighty Stawith having ascertained several of girite.” our scientific laws of motion.
The work on Meteorology has “The principle of vertical veloci
been lately translated into French ties’ was certainly known to him. This by M. Barthélemy St Hilaire, has been denied'; but Galileo himself who appears to be very encomiassays that he found it in Aristotle, and tic in his annotations. Mr Lewes, doubtless alludes to the following pas- while admitting that all has been sage : — The same force will raise a
done that could be expected of an greater weight in proportion as the force
observer who had no thermometer, is applied at a longer distance from the fulcrum, because it then describes a
no barometer, no hygrometer, no larger circle ; and a weight which is far- anemometer, no instrument of any thest removed from the centre, is made kind whatever, will not admit that to move through the greatest space.' observations made under these dis
“He also gained a glimpse of the advantages have much scientific parallelogram of forces. Poselger thinks value. The work shows," he his statement of it superior in elegance
says, “what could and what could and precision to that given by Kant. Yet, in spite of this, I must still think
not be effected by observation, unthat Aristotle only gained a glimpse of assisted by instruments. Aristotle, the law, as he did of the principle of equally with moderns, makes heat
vertical velocities,' since he failed to see the chief agent in meteorologic its far-reaching importance, and made changes. But this is general, qualittle or no use of it.”
litative knowledge, and science deIt illustrates the difficulty that mands quantitative knowledge.” attends upon forming an accurate As our classification of the sciences estimate of the science of Aristotle, had not yet been formed, it will that this very explanation he gives not be supposed that Aristotle's of the power of the lever has been work exactly corresponds with what differently interpreted by his com- we should understand by a treatise mentators. Some have understood on meteorology. It embraces what that when he accounts for the we should call a heterogeneous vagreater force of a weight at the riety of topics. The four elements long arm of the lever by the cir- are discussed-fire, air, water, earth cumstance that it describes a larger of which all mundane bodies are circle, he was alluding to the “ mar- composed. To these are added a fifth vellous properties of the circle,” of element, an ether, which fills supra
mundane space, of which little, it anticipation of modern science. seems, is said, except that it is For ourselves, we have been accusendowed with circular movement. tomed to regard such encomiums Explanations are given of shooting as a harmless display of eloquence, stars, comets, and the Milky Way, and perhaps of vanity — nothing the formation of rivers, the saltness better, nothing worse.
The man of the sea, clouds, fogs, dew, the of science loves occasionally to add winds, and other phenomena which to his own proper honours the we more distinctly recognise as graceful plume of scholarship. With meteorological. It is worth notic- a cheap magnanimity he exalts the ing, that although Democritus had dead. He varies his lecture, or already asserted of the Milky Way enlivens bis page, with a burst of that it was a cluster of stars, Aris- classical enthusiasm. It rings holtotle prefers to regard it as an ex- low to our ear-fictitious or pehalation from the earth suspended dantic-but it is harmless enough. in the air. We moderns, judging No men of science now dream of from our own position, are disposed, reviving the authority of Aristotle; in a case like this, to give the palm that is, of taking any of their facts of superior sagacity to Democritus. out of his pages, or any one of their But, in fact, they were both mere opinions. Nevertheless, by those
. guesses. The telescope has reveals who, like the author before us, are ed to us that Democritus made the bent on framing an accurate estihappier conjecture; but in the posi- mate of what a great man of past tion which the two men occupied, times really accomplished, such exone guess was as meritorious as the aggerations cannot be contemplatother.
ed with perfect indifference. Mr
Lewes undertakes the ratber un“On these multifarious topics,” Mr Lewes remarks, “his theories, as may be gracious task of reducing this apimagined, are mostly wide of the mark, plause to its due proportions. but they often display remarkable sagacity, and bear the stamp of an earnest “The eulogies,” he observes, “lavinvestigating mind. The large accumu
ished on Aristotle as a biologist, even by lation of facts is very noticeable ; but
men whose own special knowledge might rather, I think, on account of the atti
have made them the severest critics, retude of mind which impelled him to
mind us rather of the tone adopted in make such an accumulation, and to in- the middle ages than of the more circumsist with so much emphasis on the value spect and critical language of our own of facts, than, as M. Barthélemy St age. 'In Aristotle,' says Cuvier, 'everyHilaire would have us believe, because thing amazes, everything is prodigious, the facts themselves display any notice- everything is colossal. He lived but able sagacity. M. St Hilaire is at great sixty-two years, and he was able to make pains, in his commentary, to point out
thousands of observations of extreme every occasion on which his hero is cor- delicacy, the accuracy of which the most rect, or approaches correctness in facts; rigorous criticism has never been able but a little reflection reveals that in the to impeach.' This rhetorical exaggeramajority of such cases the facts are such tion is painfully insincere ; no one better as lie open to universal observation, im
than Cuvier could have known the plying no merit, therefore, in the ob- worthlessness of Aristotle's observations server, while in no case have they quan
on all points which were not open to titive precision. It is for its method the common eye; but that servility, rather than its results that this treatise too common amongst Frenchmen, which is remarkable.”
makes them eager to do homage to every
established reputation, made Cuvier forWe pass on to the Anatomy and get his own knowledge, and bow his Physiology of the ancient sage.
head before the blinding splendour of a Here it will be new to many an
“Little less rhetorical is De Blain. English reader to learn that some eminent Frenchmen have discover
ville, who, though notorious for his ed in Aristotle a quite surprising
love of contradiction, dared not whisper
a word against ‘ le grand Stagirite.' It accuracy, and even a marvellous is the natural sciences,' he says, 'which