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An essay by John Brown

With Brains, Sir

Title:     With Brains, Sir
Author: John Brown [More Titles by Brown]

"Multi multa sciunt, pauci multum."

"_It is one thing to_ wish to have truth on our side, _and another thing to wish to be_ on the side of truth."--WHATELY.

"{Atalaiporos tois pollois he zetesis tes alepheias, kai epi ta hetoima mallon trepontai.}"--THUCYDIDES.

"_The most perfect philosophy of the_ natural _kind, only staves off our_ IGNORANCE _a little longer; as, perhaps, the most perfect philosophy of the_ moral or metaphysical _kind, serves only to discover larger portions of it._"--DAVID HUME.

"Pray, Mr. Opie, may I ask what you mix your colors with?" said a brisk dilettante student to the great painter. "With _Brains_, sir," was the gruff reply--and the right one. It did not give much of what we call information; it did not expound the principles and rules of the art; but, if the inquirer had the commodity referred to, it would awaken him; it would set him a-going, a-thinking, and a-painting to good purpose. If he had not the wherewithal, as was likely enough, the less he had to do with colors and their mixture the better. Many other artists, when asked such a question, would have either set about detailing the mechanical composition of such and such colors, in such and such proportions, rubbed up so and so; or perhaps they would (and so much the better, but not the best) have shown him how they laid them on; but even this would leave him at the critical point. Opie preferred going to the quick and the heart of the matter: "With _Brains_, sir."

Sir Joshua Reynolds was taken by a friend to see a picture. He was anxious to admire it, and he looked it over with a keen and careful but favorable eye. "Capital composition; correct drawing; the color, tone, chiaroscuro excellent; but--but--it wants, hang it, it wants--_That!_" snapping his fingers; and, wanting "that," though it had everything else, it was worth nothing.

Again, Etty was appointed teacher of the students of the Royal Academy, having been preceded by a clever, talkative, scientific expounder of aesthetics, who delighted to tell the young men _how_ everything was done, how to copy this, and how to express that. A student came up to the new master, "How should I do this, sir?" "Suppose you try." Another, "What does this mean, Mr. Etty?" "Suppose you look." "But I have looked." "Suppose you look again." And they did try, and they did look, and looked again; and they saw and achieved what they never could have done, had the how or the what (supposing this possible, which it is not in its full and highest meaning) been told them, or done for them; in the one case, sight and action were immediate, exact, intense, and secure; in the other mediate, feeble, and lost as soon as gained. But what are "_Brains_"? what did Opie mean? and what is Sir Joshua's "_That_"? What is included in it? and what is the use, or the need of trying and trying, of missing often before you hit, when you can be told at once and be done with it; or of looking when you may be shown? Everything in medicine and in painting--practical arts--as means to ends, let their scientific enlargement be ever so rapid and immense, depends upon the right answers to these questions.

First of all, "brains," in the painter, are not diligence, knowledge, skill, sensibility, a strong will, or a high aim,--he may have all these, and never paint anything so truly good and effective as the rugged woodcut we must all remember, of Apollyon bestriding the whole breadth of the way, and Christian girding at him like a man, in the old sixpenny _Pilgrim's Progress_; and a young medical student may have zeal, knowledge, ingenuity, attention, a good eye and a steady hand--he may be an accomplished anatomist, stethoscopist, histologist, and analyst; and yet, with all this, and all the lectures, and all the books, and all the sayings, and all the preparations, drawings, tables, and other helps of his teachers, crowded into his memory or his note-books, he may be beaten in treating a whitlow or a colic, by the nurse in the wards where he was clerk, or by the old country doctor who brought him into the world, and who listens with such humble wonder to his young friend's account, on his coming home after each session, of all he had seen and done,--of all the last astonishing discoveries and operations of the day. What the painter wants, in addition to, and as the complement of, the other elements, is _genius and sense_; what the doctor needs to crown and give worth and safety to his accomplishments, is _sense and genius_: in the first case, more of this, than of that; in the second, more of that, than of this. These are the "_Brains_" and the "_That_."

And what is genius? and what is sense? Genius is a peculiar native aptitude, or tendency, to any one calling or pursuit over all others. A man may have a genius for governing, for killing, or for curing the greatest number of men, and in the best possible manner: a man may have a genius for the fiddle, or his mission may be for the tight-rope, or the Jew's harp; or it may be a natural turn for seeking, and finding, and teaching truth, and for doing the greatest possible good to mankind; or it may be a turn equally natural for seeking, and finding, and teaching a lie, and doing the _maximum_ of mischief. It was as natural, as inevitable, for Wilkie to develop himself into a painter, and such a painter as we know him to have been, as it is for an acorn when planted to grow up into an oak, a specific _quercus robur_. But _genius_, and nothing else, is not enough, even for a painter; he must likewise have _sense_; and what is sense? _Sense_ drives, or ought to drive, the coach; sense regulates, combines, restrains, commands, all the rest--even the genius; and sense implies exactness and soundness, power and promptitude of mind.

Then for the young doctor, he must have as his main, his master faculty, SENSE--Brains--{nous}, justness of mind, because his subject-matter is one in which principle works, rather than impulse, as in painting; the understanding has first to do with it, however much it is worthy of the full exercise of the feelings, and the affections. But all will not do, if GENIUS is not there,--a real turn for the profession. It may not be a liking for it--some of the best of its practitioners never really liked it, at least liked other things better; but there must be a fitness of faculty of body and mind for its full, constant, exact pursuit. This sense and this genius, such a special therapeutic gift, had Hippocrates, Sydenham, Pott, Pinel, John Hunter, Delpech, Dupuytren, Kellie, Cheyne, Baillie, and Abercrombie. We might, to pursue the subject, pick out painters who had much genius and little or no sense, and _vice versa_; and physicians and surgeons, who had sense without genius, and genius without sense, and some perhaps who had neither, and yet were noticeable, and, in their own sideways, useful men.

But our great object will be gained if we have given our young readers (and these remarks are addressed exclusively to students) any idea of what we mean, if we have made them think, and look inwards. The noble and sacred science you have entered on is large, difficult, and deep, beyond most others; it is every day becoming larger, deeper, and in many senses more difficult, more complicated and involved. It requires _more than the average_ intellect, energy, attention, patience, and courage, and that singular but imperial quality, at once a gift and an acquirement, _presence of mind_--{anchinoia}, or nearness of the {nous}, as the subtle Greeks called it--than almost any other department of human thought and action, except perhaps that of ruling men. Therefore it is, that we hold it to be of paramount importance that the parents, teachers, and friends of youths intended for medicine, and above all, that those who examine them on their entering on their studies, should at least (we might safely go much farther) satisfy themselves as far as they can, that they are not below _par_ in intelligence; they may be deficient and unapt, _qua medici_, and yet, if taken in time, may make excellent men in other useful and honorable callings.

But suppose we have got the requisite amount and specific kind of capacity, how are we to fill it with its means; how are we to make it effectual for its end? On this point we say nothing, except that the fear now-a-days, is rather that the mind gets too much of too many things, than too little or too few. But this means of turning knowledge to action, making it what Bacon meant when he said it was power, invigorating the thinking substance--giving tone, and you may call it muscle and nerve, blood and bone, to the mind--a firm gripe, and a keen and sure eye; _that_ we think, is far too little considered or cared for at present, as if the mere act of filling in everything forever into a poor lad's brain, would give him the ability to make anything of it, and above all, the power to appropriate the small portions of true nutriment, and reject the dregs.

One comfort we have, that in the main, and in the last resort, there is really very little that _can_ be done for any man by another. Begin with the sense and the genius--the keen appetite and the good digestion--and, amid all obstacles and hardships, the work goes on merrily and well; without these, we all know what a laborious affair, and a dismal, it is to make an incapable youth apply. Did any of you ever set yourselves to keep up artificial respiration, or to trudge about for a whole night with a narcotized victim of opium, or transfuse blood (your own perhaps) into a poor, fainting exanimate wretch? If so, you will have some idea of the heartless attempt, and its generally vain and miserable result, to make a dull student apprehend--a debauched, interested, knowing, or active in anything beyond the base of his brain--a weak, etiolated intellect hearty, and worth anything; and yet how many such are dragged through their dreary _curricula_, and by some miraculous process of cramming, and equally miraculous power of turning their insides out, get through their examinations: and then--what then? providentially, in most cases, they find their level; the broad daylight of the world--its shrewd and keen eye, its strong instinct of what can, and what cannot serve _its_ purpose--puts all, except the poor object himself, to rights; happy is it for him if he turns to some new and more congenial pursuit in time.

But it may be asked, how are the brains to be strengthened, the sense quickened, the genius awakened, the affections raised--the whole man turned to the best account for the cure of his fellow-men? How are you, when physics and physiology are increasing so marvellously, and when the burden of knowledge, the quantity of transferable information, of registered facts, of current names--and such names!--is so infinite: how are you to enable a student to take all in, bear up under all, and use it as not abusing it, or being abused by it? You must invigorate the containing and sustaining mind, you must strengthen him from within, as well as fill him from without; you must discipline, nourish, edify, relieve, and refresh his entire nature; and how? We have no time to go at large into this, but we will indicate what we mean:--encourage languages, especially French and German, at the early part of their studies; encourage not merely the book knowledge, but the personal pursuit of natural history, of field botany, of geology, of zoology; give the young, fresh, unforgetting eye, exercise and free scope upon the infinite diversity and combination of natural colors, forms, substances, surfaces, weights, and sizes--everything, in a word, that will educate their eye or ear, their touch, taste, and smell, their sense of muscular resistance; encourage them by prizes, to make skeletons, preparations, and collections of any natural objects; and, above all, try and get hold of their affections, and make them put their hearts into their work. Let them, if possible, have the advantage of a regulated _tutorial_, as well as the ordinary professorial system. Let there be no excess in the number of classes and frequency of lectures. Let them be drilled in composition; by this we mean the writing and spelling of correct, plain English (a matter not of every-day occurrence, and not on the increase),--let them be directed to the best books of the old masters in medicine, and _examined in them_,--let them be encouraged in the use of a wholesome and manly literature. We do not mean popular or even modern literature--such as Emerson, Bulwer, or Alison, or the trash of inferior periodicals or novels--fashion, vanity, and the spirit of the age, will attract them readily enough to all these; we refer to the treasures of our elder and better authors. If our young medical student would take our advice, and for an hour or two twice a week take up a volume of Shakspeare, Cervantes, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Cowper, Montaigne, Addison, Defoe, Goldsmith, Fielding, Scott, Charles Lamb, Macaulay, Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, Helps, Thackeray, &c.;, not to mention authors on deeper and more sacred subjects--they would have happier and healthier minds, and make none the worse doctors. If they, by good fortune--for the tide has set in strong against the _literae humaniores_--have come off with some Greek or Latin, we would supplicate for an ode of Horace, a couple of pages of Cicero or of Pliny once a month, and a page of Xenophon. French and German should be mastered either before or during the first years of study. They will never afterwards be acquired so easily or so thoroughly, and the want of them may be bitterly felt when too late.

But one main help, we are persuaded, is to be found in studying, and by this we do not mean the mere reading, but the digging into and through, the energizing upon, and mastering such books as we have mentioned at the close of this paper. These are not, of course, the only works we would recommend to those who wish to understand thoroughly, and to make up their minds, on these great subjects as wholes; but we all know too well that our Art is long, broad, and deep,--and Time, opportunity, and our little hour, brief and uncertain, therefore, we would recommend those books as a sort of game of the mind, a mental exercise--like cricket, a gymnastic, a clearing of the eyes of their mind as with euphrasy, a strengthening their power over particulars, a getting fresh, strong views of worn out, old things, and, above all, a learning the right use of their reason, and by knowing their own ignorance and weakness, finding true knowledge and strength. Taking up a book like Arnauld, and reading a chapter of his lively, manly sense, is like throwing your manuals, and scalpels, and microscopes, and natural (most unnatural) orders out of your hand and head, and taking a game with the Grange Club, or a run to the top of Arthur Seat. Exertion quickens your pulse, expands your lungs, makes your blood warmer and redder, fills your mouth with the pure waters of relish, strengthens and supples your legs; and though on your way to the top you may encounter rocks, and baffling _debris_, and gusts of fierce winds rushing out upon you from behind corners, just as you will find in Arnauld, and all truly serious and honest books of the kind, difficulties and puzzles, winds of doctrine, and deceitful mists; still you are rewarded at the top by the wide view. You see, as from a tower, the end of all. You look into the perfections and relations of things. You see the clouds, the bright lights and the everlasting hills on the far horizon. You come down the hill a happier, a better, and a hungrier man, and of a better mind. But, as we said, you must eat the book, you must crush it, and cut it with your teeth and swallow it; just as you must walk up, and not be carried up the hill, much less imagine you are there, or look upon a picture of what you would see were you up, however accurately or artistically done; no--you yourself must _do_ both.

Philosophy--the love and the possession of wisdom--is divided into two things, science or knowledge; and a habit, or power of mind. He who has got the first is not truly wise unless his mind has reduced and assimilated it, as Dr. Prout would have said, unless he appropriates and can use it for his need.

The prime qualifications of a physician may be summed up in the words _Capax_, _Perspicax_, _Sagax_, _Efficax_. _Capax_--there must be room to receive, and arrange, and keep knowledge; _Perspicax_--senses and perceptions, keen, accurate, and immediate, to bring in materials from all sensible things; _Sagax_--a central power of knowing what is what, and what it is worth, of choosing and rejecting, of judging; and finally, _Efficax_--the will and the way--the power to turn all the other three--capacity, perspicacity, sagacity, to account, in the performance of the thing in hand, and thus rendering back to the outer world, in a new and useful form, what you had received from it. These are the intellectual qualities which make up the physician, without any one of which he would be _mancus_, and would not deserve the name of a complete artsman, any more than proteine would be itself if any one of its four elements were amissing.

We have left ourselves no room to speak of the books we have named at the end of this paper. We recommend them all to our young readers. Arnauld's excellent and entertaining _Art of Thinking_--the once famous Port-Royal Logic--is, if only one be taken, probably the best. Thomson's little book is admirable, and is specially suited for a medical student, as its illustrations are drawn with great intelligence and exactness from chemistry and physiology. We know nothing more perfect than the analysis, at page 348, of Sir H. Davy's beautiful experiments to account for the traces of an alkali, found when decomposing water by galvanism. It is quite exquisite, the hunt after and the unearthing of "_the residual cause_." This book has the great advantage of a clear, lively, and strong style. We can only give some short extracts.


"We may define the inductive method as the process of discovering laws and rules from facts, and causes from effects; and the deductive, as the method of deriving facts from laws, and effects from their causes."

There is a valuable paragraph on anticipation and its uses--there is a power and desire of the mind to project itself from the known into the unknown, in the expectation of finding what it is in search of.

"This power of divination, this sagacity, which is the mother of all science, we may call anticipation. The intellect, with a dog-like instinct, will not hunt until it has found the scent. It must have some presage of the result before it will turn its energies to its attainment. The system of anatomy which has immortalized the name of Oken, is the consequence of a _flash of anticipation_, which glanced through his mind when he picked up, in a chance walk, the skull of a deer, bleached by the weather, and exclaimed--'_It is a vertebral column!_'"

"The man of science possesses principles--the man of art, not the less nobly gifted, is possessed and carried away by them. The principles which art _involves_, science _evolves_. The truths on which the success of art depends lurk in the artist's mind in an undeveloped state, guiding his hand, stimulating his invention, balancing his judgment, but not appearing in regular propositions." "An art (that of medicine for instance) will of course admit into its limits, everything (_and nothing else_) which can conduce to the performance of _its own proper work_; it recognizes no other principles of selection."

"He who reads a book on logic, probably thinks no better when he rises up than when he sat down, but if any of the principles there unfolded cleave to his memory, and he afterwards, perhaps unconsciously, shapes and corrects his thoughts by them, no doubt the whole powers of his reasoning receive benefit. In a word, every art, from reasoning to riding and rowing, is learned by assiduous practice, and if principles do any good, it is proportioned to the readiness with which they can be converted into rules, and the patient constancy with which they are applied in all our attempts at excellence."

"_A man can teach names to another man, but he cannot plant in another's mind that far higher gift--the power of naming._"

"_Language is not only the vehicle of thought, it is a great and efficient instrument in thinking._"

"The whole of every _science_ may be made the subject of teaching. Not so with _art_; much of it is not teachable."

Coleridge's profound and brilliant, but unequal, and often somewhat nebulous _Essay on Method_, is worth reading over, were it only as an exercitation, and to impress on the mind the meaning and value of _method_. Method is the road by which you reach, or hope to reach, a certain end; it is a process. It is the best direction for the search after truth. System, again, which is often confounded with it, is a mapping out, a circumscription of knowledge, either already gained, or theoretically laid down as probable. Aristotle had a system which did much good, but also much mischief. Bacon was chiefly occupied in preparing and pointing out the way--the only way--of procuring knowledge. He left to others to systematize the knowledge after it was got; but the pride and indolence of the human spirit lead it constantly to build systems on imperfect knowledge. It has the trick of filling up out of its own fancy what it has not the diligence, the humility, and the honesty, to seek in nature; whose servant, and articulate voice, it ought to be.

Descartes' little tract on Method is, like everything the lively and deep-souled Breton did, full of original and bright thought.

Sir John Herschel's volume needs no praise. We know no work of the sort, fuller of the best moral worth, as well as the highest philosophy. We fear it is more talked of than read.

We would recommend the article in the _Quarterly Review_ as first-rate, and written with great eloquence and grace.

SYDNEY SMITH'S _Sketches of Lectures on Moral Philosophy_.
Second Edition.

SEDGWICK'S _Discourse on the Studies at Cambridge, with a
Preface and Appendix_. Sixth Edition.

We have put these two worthies here, not because we had forgotten them,--much less because we think less of them than the others, especially Sydney. But because we bring them in at the end of our small entertainment, as we hand round a liqueur--be it Curacoa, Kimmel, or old Glenlivet--after dinner, and end with the heterogeneous plum-pudding--that most English of realized ideas. Sydney Smith's book is one of rare excellence, and well worthy of the study of men and women, though perhaps not transcendental enough for our modern philosophers, male and female. It is really astonishing how much of the best of everything, from patriotism to nonsense, is to be found in this volume of sketches. You may read it through, if your sides can bear such an accumulation of laughter, with great benefit; and if you open it anywhere, you can't read three sentences without coming across some, it may be common thought, and often original enough, better expressed and _put_ than you ever before saw it. The lectures on the Affections, the Passions and Desires, and on Study, we would have everybody to read and enjoy.

Sedgwick is a different, and, as a whole, an inferior man; but a _man_ every inch of him, and an Englishman too, in his thoughts, and in his fine mother wit and tongue. He has, in the midst of all his confusion and passionateness, the true instinct of philosophy--the true venatic sense of objective truth. We know nothing better in the main, than his demolition of what is untrue, and his reduction of what is absurd, and his taking the wind out of what is tympanitic, in the notorious _Vestiges_; we don't say he always does justice to what is really good in it; his mission is to execute justice _upon it_, and that he does. His remarks on Oken and Owen, and his quotations from Dr. Clarke's admirable paper on the _Development of the Foetus_, in the _Cambridge Philosophical Transactions_, we would recommend to our medical friends. The very confusion of Sedgwick is the free outcome of a deep and racy nature; it puts us in mind of what happened, when an Englishman was looking with astonishment and disgust at a Scotchman eating a singed sheep's head, and was asked by the eater what he thought of that dish? "_Dish_, sir, do you call that a dish?" "Dish or no dish," rejoined the Caledonian, "there's a deal o' fine confused feedin' aboot it, let me tell you."

We conclude these rambling remarks with a quotation from Arnauld, the friend of Pascal, and the intrepid antagonist of the Vatican and the Grand Monarque; one of the noblest, freest, most untiring and honest intellects, our world has ever seen. "Why don't you rest sometimes?" said his friend Nicole to him. "Rest! why should I rest here? haven't I an eternity to rest in?" The following sentence from his "_Port-Royal Logic_," so well introduced and translated by Mr. Baynes, contains the gist of all we have been trying to say. It should be engraven on the tablets of every young student's heart--for the heart has to do with study as well as the head.

"There is nothing more desirable than _good sense and justness of mind_,--all other qualities of mind are of limited use, but exactness of judgment is of general utility in every part and in all employments of life.

"_We are too apt to employ reason merely as an instrument for acquiring the sciences, whereas we ought to avail ourselves of the sciences, as an instrument for perfecting our reason_; justness of mind being infinitely more important than all the speculative knowledge which we can obtain by means of sciences the most solid. This ought to lead wise men to make their sciences _the exercise and not the occupation of their mental powers_. Men are not born to employ all their time in measuring lines, in considering the various movements of matter: their minds are too great, and their life too short, their time too precious, to be so engrossed; but they are born to be just, equitable, and prudent, in all their thoughts, their actions, their business; to these things they ought especially to train and discipline themselves."

So, young friends, bring _Brains_ to your work, and mix everything with them, and them with everything. _Arma virumque_, tools and a man to use them. Stir up, direct, and give free scope to Sir Joshua's "_that_," and try again, and again; and look, _oculo intento, acie acerrima_. Looking is a voluntary act,--it is the man within coming to the window; seeing is a state,--passive and receptive, and, at the best, little more than registrative.

Since writing the above, we have read with great satisfaction Dr. Forbes' Lecture delivered before the Chichester Literary Society and Mechanics' Institute, and published at their request. Its subject is, Happiness in its relation to Work and Knowledge. It is worthy of its author, and is, we think, more largely and finely imbued with his personal character, than any one other of his works that we have met with. We could not wish a fitter present for a young man starting on the game of life. It is a wise, cheerful manly, and warm-hearted discourse on the words of Bacon,--"He that is wise, let him pursue some desire or other: for he that doth not affect some one thing in chief, unto him all things are distasteful and tedious." We will not spoil this little volume by giving any account of it. Let our readers get it, and read it. The extracts from his Thesis, _De Mentis Exercitatione et Felicitate exinde derivanda_, are very curious--showing the native vigor and bent of his mind, and indicating also, at once the identity and the growth of his thoughts during the lapse of thirty-three years.

We give the last paragraph, the sense and the filial affection of which are alike admirable. Having mentioned to his hearers that they saw in himself a living illustration of the truth of his position, that happiness is a necessary result of knowledge and work, he thus concludes:--

"If you would further desire to know to what besides I am chiefly indebted for so enviable a lot, I would say:--1st, Because I had the good fortune to come into the world with a healthful frame, and with a sanguine temperament. 2d, Because I had no patrimony, and was therefore obliged to trust to my own exertions for a livelihood. 3d, Because I was born in a land where instruction is greatly prized and readily accessible. 4th, Because I was brought up to a profession which not only compelled mental exercise, but supplied for its use materials of the most delightful and varied kind. _And lastly and principally, because the good man to whom I owe my existence, had the foresight to know what would be best for his children. He had the wisdom, and the courage, and the exceeding love, to bestow all that could be spared of his worldly means, to purchase for his sons, that which is beyond price_, EDUCATION; well judging that the means so expended, if hoarded for future use, would be, if not valueless, certainly evanescent, while the precious treasure for which they were exchanged, a cultivated and instructed mind, would not only last through life, but might be the fruitful source of treasures far more precious than itself. So equipped he sent them forth into the world to fight Life's battle, leaving the issue in the hand of God; confident, however, that though they might fail to achieve renown or to conquer Fortune, they possessed _that_ which, if rightly used, could win for them the yet higher prize of HAPPINESS."

* * * * *

Since this was written, many good books have appeared, but we would select three, which all young men should read and get--Hartley Coleridge's _Lives of Northern Worthies_, Thackeray's _Letters of Brown the Elder_, and _Tom Brown's School-days_--in spirit and in expression, we don't know any better models for manly courage, good sense, and feeling, and they are as well written as they are thought.

There are the works of another man, one of the greatest, not only of our, but of any time, to which we cannot too earnestly draw our young readers. We mean the philosophical writings of Sir William Hamilton. We know no more invigorating, quickening, rectifying kind of exercise, than reading with a will, anything he has written upon permanently important subjects. There is a greatness and simplicity, a closeness of thought, a glance keen and wide, a play of the entire nature, and a truthfulness and downrightness, with an amount, and accuracy, and vivification of learning, such as we know of in no one other writer, ancient or modern--not even Leibnitz; and we know no writings which so wholesomely at once exalt and humble the reader, make him feel what is in him, and what he can and may, as well as what he cannot, and need never hope to know. In this respect, Hamilton is as grand as Pascal, and more simple; he exemplifies everywhere his own sublime adaptation of Scripture--unless a man become a little child, he cannot enter into the kingdom; he enters the temple stooping, but he presses on, intrepid and alone, to the inmost _adytum_, worshipping the more the nearer he gets to the inaccessible shrine, whose veil no mortal hand has ever rent in twain. And we name after him, the thoughtful, candid, impressive little volume of his pupil, his friend, and his successor, Professor Fraser.

The following passage from Sir William Hamilton's _Dissertations_, besides its wise thought, sounds in the ear like the pathetic and majestic sadness of a symphony by Beethoven:--

"There are two sorts of ignorance: we philosophize to escape ignorance, and the consummation of our philosophy is ignorance; we start from the one, we repose in the other; they are the goals from which, and to which, we tend; and the pursuit of knowledge is but a course between two ignorances, as human life is itself only a travelling from grave to grave.

{Tis bios?--Ek tymboio thoron, eti tymbon hodeuo.}

The highest reach of human science is the scientific recognition of human ignorance; 'Qui nescit ignorare, ignorat scire.' This 'learned ignorance' is the rational conviction by the human mind of its inability to transcend certain limits; it is the knowledge of ourselves,--the science of man. This is accomplished by a demonstration of the disproportion between what is to be known, and our faculties of knowing,--the disproportion, to wit, between the infinite and the finite. In fact, the recognition of human ignorance, is not only the one highest, but the one true, knowledge; and its first-fruit, as has been said, is humility. Simple nescience is not proud; consummated science is positively humble. For this knowledge it is not, which 'puffeth up;' but its opposite, the conceit of false knowledge,--the conceit, in truth, as the apostle notices, of an ignorance of the very nature of knowledge:--

'Nam nesciens quid scire sit,
Te scire cuncta jactitas.'

"But as our knowledge stands to Ignorance, so stands it also to Doubt. Doubt is the beginning and the end of our efforts to know; for as it is true,--'Alte dubitat qui altius credit,' so it is likewise true,--'Quo magis quaerimus magis dubitamus.'

"The grand result of human wisdom is thus only a consciousness that what we know is as nothing to what we know not, ('Quantum est quod nescimus!')--an articulate confession, in fact, by our natural reason, of the truth declared in revelation, that '_now_ we see through a glass, darkly.'"

His pupil writes in the same spirit and to the same end:--"A discovery, by means of reflection and mental experiment, of the _limits_ of knowledge, is the highest and most universally applicable discovery of all; it is the one through which our intellectual life most strikingly blends with the moral and practical part of human nature. Progress in knowledge is often paradoxically indicated by a diminution in the _apparent bulk_ of what we know. Whatever helps to work off the dregs of false opinion, and to purify the intellectual mass--whatever deepens our conviction of our infinite ignorance--really adds to, although it sometimes seems to diminish, the rational possessions of man. This is the highest kind of merit that is claimed for Philosophy, by its earliest as well as by its latest representatives. It is by this standard that Socrates and Kant measure the chief results of their toil."


1. Arnauld's Port-Royal Logic; translated by T. S. Baynes.--2. Thomson's Outlines of the Necessary Laws of Thought.--3. Descartes on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences.--4. Coleridge's Essay on Method.--5. Whately's Logic and Rhetoric; new and cheap edition.--6. Mill's Logic; new and cheap edition.--7. Dugald Stewart's Outlines.--8. Sir John Herschel's Preliminary Dissertation.--9. Quarterly Review, vol. lxviii; Article upon Whewell's Philosophy of Inductive Sciences.--10. Isaac Taylor's Elements of Thought.--11. Sir William Hamilton's edition of Reid; Dissertations; and Lectures.--12. Professor Fraser's Rational Philosophy.--13. Locke on the Conduct of the Understanding.

[The end]
John Brown's essay: With Brains, Sir