Page images


Having finished the present treatise on the several parts of Grammar, we shall conclude this portion of our work, with expressing a few sentiments, in vindication of the subject and labours in which we have been engaged.

These sentiments have been principally taken from Harris's Hermes.

An objector to this system of grammatical rules and principles, may demand, with an air of pleasantry and ridicule, “Is there no speaking then without all this trouble? Do we not all converse together without difficulty, and clearly communicate our ideas; not only the learned, but the unlearned, not only profound philosophers, but also poor and simple peasants ?" We may answer, by interrogating on our part; Do not those same poor peasants use the Lever and the Wedge, and

many other instruments, with much habitual readiness? And yet have they any conception of those geometrical principles, from which those machines derive their efficacy and force? And is the ignorance of these peasants a reason for others to remain ignorant: or to render the subject a less becoming inquiry ? Think of animals, and vegetables, that occur every day; of time, of place, and of motion; of light, of colours, and of gravitation; of our very senses and intellect, by which we perceive every thing else: that they are, we all know, and are perfectly satisfied; what they are, is a subject of much obscurity and doubt. Were we to reject this last question, because we are certain of the first position, we should banish all philosophy at once out of the world.

But a graver objector now accosts us. “What (says he) is the utility? Whence the profit, where the gain?Every science whatever (we may answer) has its use.

Arithmetic is excellent for the guaging of liquors; geometry, for the measuring of estates, astronomy for the making of almanacs; and grammar, perhaps, for the drawing of bonds and conveyances.

Thus much to the Interested. If the Liberal ask for something better than this, we may answer and assure them, from the best authorities, that every exercise of the mind upon theorems of science, like generous and manly exercise of the body, tends to call forth and strengthen nature's original vigour. Be the sub

ject immediately lucrative, or not, the nerves of reason are braced by the mere employ; and we become abler actors in the drama of life, whether our part be of the busier, or of the sedater kind.

Perhaps too, there is a pleasure, even in science itself, distinct from any end, to which it may be farther conducive. Are not health and strength of body, desirable for their own sakes, though we happen not to be destined for porters or draymen? And have not health and strength of mind their intrinsic worth also, though not assigned to the pursuits of emolument ? Why should there not be a good, (could we have the virtue to recognise it,) in the mere energy of our intellect, as much as in energies of lower degree?

If there be supposed then a pleasure, a satisfaction, a good, a something valuable for itself without a view to any thing farther, in so many objects of the subordinate kind, shall we not allow the same praise to the sublime objects of the mind ? Shall the intellect alone feel no pleasures in its energy, when we allow them to the gross energies of appetite and sense ? Whatever may be urged in behalf of the enjoyment of the sen. ses, we may safely affirm of intellectual good, that it is the good of that part, which is most excellent within us; that it is a good accommodated to all places and times; which neither depends on the will of others, nor on the affluence of external fortune; that it is a good which decays not with decaying appetites, but often rises in vigour, when those are no more.

But assuredly, when our enjoyments and powers, whether of the senses, the imagination, or the understanding, are contemplated with gratitude to their Author, the Giver of all good, and employed to promote his will and our own final well being, they answer, in the highest degree, the end for which they were granted to us. By these means they become blessings truly improved, ennobled, and sanctified.

[ocr errors][merged small]


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Non solum ut intelligere possit, sed e omnino possit non intelligere curanduma."


[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »