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may (especially in countries where "indecent to become a Philosophe-Sentimentalist. Most exposure” is cognised at police-offices) be wearisome, accordingly, is the perpetual clatconsidered superfluous. The only question ter kept up here about vertv, honnéle'é, grundeur, is one in Natural History: Whence comes it? sensibilité, ames-nolles; how unspeakably good is What may a man, not otherwise without ele- is to be virtuous, how pleasant, how sublime: vation of mind, of kindly character, of immense "In the Devil and his grandmother's name, be professed philanthropy; and doubtless of ex- virtuous; and let us have an end of it!" In traordinary insight, mean thereby? To us it such sorl (we will nevertheless joyfully recog. is but another illustration of the fearless, all- nise) does great Nature in spite of all contrafor-logic, thoroughly consistent, Mechanical dictions, declare her royalty, her divineness ; Thinker. It coheres well enough with Diderot's and, for the pocr Mechanical Philosophe, has theory of man; that there is nothing of sacred prepared since the substance is hidden from either in man or around man; and that chime- him, a shadow wherewith he can be cheered. ras are chimerical. How shall he for whom In fine, to our ill-starred Mechanical Phinothing, that cannot be jargoned of in debating- losophe-Sentimentalist, with his loud preaching clubs, exists, have any faintest forecast of the and rather poor performing, shall we not, in depth, significance, divineness of Silence; of various respects, “ thankfully stretch out the the sacredness of “Secrets known to all ?” hand ?” In all ways, “it was necessary that
Nevertheless, Nature is great; and Denis the logical side of things should likewise be was among her nobler productions. To a made available.” On the whole, wondrous soul of his sort something like what we call higher developments of much, of Morality Conscience could nowise be wanting: the among the rest, are visible in the course of the feeling of Moral Relation, of the Infinite charac- world's doings, at this day. A plausible preter thereof, (as the essence and soul of all else diction were that the Ascetic System is not to that can be felt or known,) must assert itself regain its exclusive dominancy. Ever, indeed, in him. Yet how assert itself? An Infini- must Self-denial, “ Annihilation of Self, be the tude to one, in whose whole Synopsis of the beginning of all moral action:" meanwhile, he Universe no Intinite stands marked? Won that looks well, may discern filaments of a derful enough is Diderot's method; and yet nobler System, wherein this lies included as not wonderful, for we see it, and have always one harınonious element. Who knows what seen it, daily. Since there is nothing sacred new unfoldings and complex adjustmenis await in the Universe, whence this sacredness of us, before, (for example,) the true relation of what you call Virtue? Whence or how comes moral Greatness to moral Correctness, and it that you, Denis Diderot, must not do a wrong their proportional value, can be established ? thing; could not, without some qualm, speak, How, again, is perfect tolerance for the Wrong for example, one Lie, to gain Mohammed's to co-exist with ever-present conviction that Paradise with all its houris? There is no re- Right stands related io it, as a God does to a source for it, but to get into that interminable Devil, an Infinite to an opposite Infinite ? ravelment of Reward and Approval, virtue How, in a word, through what tumultuous vibeing its own reward; and assert louder and cissitudes, after how many false partial efforts, louder, contrary to the stern experience of all deepening the confusion, shall it, at length, be men, from the Divine Man, expiring with made manifest, and kept continually manifest agony of bloody sweat on the accursed tree, to the hearts of men, that the Good is not prodown 10 015 iwo, O reader (if we have ever perly the highest, but the Beautiful; that the done one Duty)—that Virtue is synonymous true Beautiful (differing from the false, as with Pleasure. Alas! was Paul, an apostle Heaven does from Vauxhall,) comprehends in of the Genules, virtuous; and was virtue its it the Good ?-In some future century, it may own reward, when his approving conscience be found that Denis Diderot, acting and protold hin that he was “the chief of sinners," fessing, in wholeness and with full conviction, aud (bunded to this life alone) “ of all men what the immense multitude act in halfness the mos! miserable ?" Or has' that same so and without conviction,-has, though hy strange sublime Virtue, at bottom, little to do with inverse methods, forwarded the result. It was Pleasure, if with far other things? Are long ago written, the Omnipotent“ makesh the Eudoxia, and Eusebeia, and Euthanasia, and wrath of the wicked" (the folly of the foolish) all the rest of them, of small account to Eubo-" to praise Him." In any case, Diderot acted sia and Elpepsia'; and the pains of any it, and not we; Diderot bears it, and not we: moderately-paced Career of Vice (Denis him- peace be with Diderot ! self being judge) as a drop in the bucket to the “Career of Indigestions?" This is what The other branch of his renown is excel. Denis never in this world will grant.
lence as a Talker. Or in wider view, (think But what then will he do? One of two his admirers,) his philosophy was not more things : admit, with Grimm, that there are surpassing than his delivery thereof. What "two justices,”—which may be called by many his philosophy amounts to we have been exhandsure names, but properly are nothing amining: but now, that in this other conversa. but the pleasant justice, and the unpleasant; tional province he was eminent, is easily bewhereus only the former is binding. Herein, lieved. A frank, ever-hoping, social character; however, Nature has been unkind to Denis; a mind full of knowledge, full of fervour; of he is not a literary court-load-eater; hut a free, great compass, of great depth, ever on tbc genial, eren poetic creature. There remains, alert: such a man could not have other thar. therefore, noihing but the second expedient; a “mouth of gold." It is still plain, what. w" assert louder and louder;" in other words, soever thing imaged itself before him,
imaged in the most lucent clearness; was ment, in his sort: he did the work of many rendered back, with light labour, in corre- men, yet nothing, or little, which many could sponding clearness. Whether, at the same not have done. time, Diderot's conversation, relatively so su- Accordingly, his Literary Works, now lying perior, deserved the intrinsic character of su- finished some fifty years, have already, to the preme, may admit of question. The worth most surprising degree, sunk in importance. of words spoken depends, after all, on the Perhaps no man so much talked of is so little wisdom that resides in them; and in Diderot's known; to the great majority he is no longer a words there was often too little of this. Vi. Reality, but a Hearsay. Such, indeed, partly, vacity, far-darting brilliancy, keenness of theo- is the natural fate of Works Polemical, which retic vision, paradoxical ingenuity, gayety, almost all Diderot's are. The Polemic annieven touches of humour; all this must have hilates his opponent; but in so doing annihibeen here; whosoever had preferred sincerity, | lates himself too, and both are swept away to earnestness, depth of practical rather than make room for something other and farther. theoretic insight, with not less of inipetuosity, Add to this, the slight-textured transitory cha. of clearness and sureness, with humour, em- racter of Diderot's style, and the fact is well phasis, or such other melody or rhythm as that enough explained. Meanwhile, let him, to utterance demanded, -musi have come over whom it applies, consider it; him among to London; and (with forbearant submissive- whose gifts it was to rise into the Perennial, ness) listened to our Johnson. Had we the and who dwelt rather low down in the Ephestronger man, then? Be it rather, as in that meral, and ephemerally fought and scrambled Duel of Caur-de-Leon with the light, nimble, there! Diderot the great has contracted into yet also invincible Saladin, that each nation Diderot the easily-measurable: so must it be had the strength which most befitted it. with others of the like.
Closely connected with this power of con- In how many sentences can the net-product versation is Dideroi's facility of composition. of all that tumultuous Atheism, printed over A talent much celebrated; numerous really many volumes, be comprised!' Nay, tbe surprising proofs whereof are on record; how whole Encyclopédie, that world's wonder of the he wrote long works within the week; some- eighteenth century, the Belus' Tower of an age times within almost the four-and-twenty hours. of refined Illumination, what has it become! Unhappily, enough still remains to make such | Alas! no stone-tower, that will stand there as feats credible. Most of Diderot's Works bear our strength and defence through all times: the clearest traces of extemporaneousness; but, at best, a wooden Helepolis, (City-taker,) stans pede in uno! They are much liker printed wherein stationed, the Philosophus Policaster talk, than the concentrated well-considered has burnt and battered down many an old utterance, which, from a man of that weight, ruinous Sorbonne; and which now, when that we expect to see set in types. It is said, “ he work is pretty well over, may, in turn, be taken wrote good pages, but could not write a good asunder, and used as firewood. The famed Enbook.” Substitute did not for could not , and cyclopedical Tree itself has proved an artificial there is some truth in the saying. Clearness, one, and borne no fruit. We mean that, in its as has been observed, comprehensibility at a nature, it is mechanical only; one of those glance, is the character of whatever Diderot attempts to parcel out the invisible mystical wrote: a clearness which, in visual objects, Soul of Man, with its infinitude of phases and rises into the region of the Artistic, and re- character, into shop-lists of what are called sembles that of Richardson or Defoe. Yet, • faculties," “ motives," and such like; which grant that he makes his meaning clear, what attempts may indeed be made with all degrees is the nature of that meaning itself? Alas, for of insight, from that of a Doctor Spurzheim most part, only a hasty, limsy, superficial to that of Denis Diderot, or Jeremy Bentham: meaning, with gleams of a deeper vision peer- and prove useful for a day, but for a day only. ing through. More or less of Disorder reigns Nevertheless it were false to regard Diderot in all Works that Diderot wrote; not order, but as a Mechanist and nothing more; as one the plausible appearance of such: the true working and grinding blindly in the mill of heart of the matter is not found; " he skips mechanical Logic, joyful with his loi there, deftly along the radii, and skips over the centre, and unconscious of any other. Call him one and misses it."
rather who contributed to deliver us therefrom: Thus may Diderot's admired Universality both by his manful whole spirit as a Mechanand admired facility have both turned to dis- ist, which drove all things to their ultimatum advantage for him. We speak not of his and crisis; and even by a dim-struggling fareception by the world ; this indeed is the “ age culty, which virtually aimed beyond this. Diof specialities;" yet, owing to other causes, derot, we said, was gifted by Nature for an Inderot the Encyclopedist had success enough. Artist : strangely flashing through his mechaniBut, what is of far more importance, his in- cal encumbrances, are rays of thought, which ward growth was marred: the strong tree shot belong to the Poet, to the Prophet; which, in
up in any one noble stem, (bearing boughs, other environment, could have revealed the and fruit, and shade all round;) but spread deepest to us. Not to seek far, consider this ont horizontally, after a very moderate height, one little sentence, which he makes the last of into innumerable branches, not useless, yet of the dying Sanderson: Le temps, la matière, et quite secondary use. Diderot could have been l'espace ne sont peut-être qu'un point (Time, Mat. an Artist; and he was little better than an En- ter, and Space are perhaps but a point !) cyclopedic Artisan. No smatterer indeed; a So too, in Art, both as a speaker and a doer, faithful artisan ; of really universal equip-l he is to be reckoned as one of those who
pressed forward irresistibly out of the artifi- one looks a sunny Elysium, through the other cial barren sphere of that time, into a truer a sulphurous Erebus: both hold of the Infigenial one. His Dramas, the Fils Naturel, the nite. This Jacques, perhaps, was not quite so Père de famille, have indeed ceased to live; hastily put together: yet there too haste is yet is the attempt towards great things visible manifest: the Author finishes it off, not by in them; the attempt remains to us, and seeks working out the figures and movements, but otherwise, and has found, and is finding, fulfil- by dashing his brush against the canvas; a
Not less in his Salons, (Judgments of maneuvre which in this case has not sucArt-Exhibitions,) written hastily for Grimm, ceeded. The Rameau's Nephew, which is the and by ill chance, on artists of quite seconda- shorter, is also the better; may pass for deciry character, do we find the freest recognition dedly the best of all Diderot's Compositions. of whatever excellence there is; nay, an im- It looks like a Sibylline utterance froin a heart petuous endeavour, not critically but even crea- all in fusion: no ephemeral thing (for it was tively, towards something more excellent. In written as a Satire on Palissot) was ever more deed, what with their unrivalled clearness, perennially treated. Strangely enough, too, it painting the picture over again for us, so that lay some fifty years, in German and Russian we too see it, and can judge it; what with their Libraries ; came out first in the masterly ver. sunny fervour, inventiveness, real artistic ge- sion of Goethe, in 1805; and only (after a denius, (which only cannot manipulate,) they are, ceptive re-translation by a M. Saur, a couragewith some few exceptions in the German ous mystifier otherwise,) reached the Paris tongue, the only Pictorial Criticisms we know public, in 1821,—when perhaps all, for whom, of worth reading. Here too, as by his own and against whom it was written, were no practice in the Dramatic branch of art, Dide-i more!—It is a farce-tragedy; and its fate has rot stands forth as the main originator (almost corresponded to its purport. One day it must the sole one in his own country) of that many also be translated into English; but will resided struggle towards what is called Nature, and quire to be done by head; the common steamcopying of Nature, and faithfulness to Nature; machinery will not meet it. a deep indispensable truth, subversive of the old error; yet under that figure, only a half- We here (con la bocca dolce) take leave of Di truth, for Art too is Art, as surely as Nature is derot in his intellectual aspect, as Artist and Nature ; which struggle, meanwhile, either as Thinker: a richly endowed, unfavourably situhalf-truth or working itself into a whole truth, ated nature ; whose effort, much marred, yet may be seen (in countries that have any Art) not without fidelity of aim, can triumph, on still forming the tendency of all artistic en- rare occasions; is perhaps nowhere utterly deavour. In which sense, Diderot's Essay on fruitless. In the moral aspect, as Man, he Painting has been judged worth translation by makes a somewhat similar figure; as indeed, the greatest modern Judge of Art, and greatest in all men, in him especially, the Opinion and modern Artist, in the highest kind of Art; and the Practice stand closely united; and as a wise may be read anew, with argumentative com- man has remarked, the speculative principles mentary and exposition, in Goethe's Works. are often but a supplement (or excuse) to the
Nay, let us grant, with pleasure, that for Di- practical manner of life.” In conducí, Didederot himself the realms of Art were not rot can nowise seem admirable to us; yet wholly unvisited; that he too, so heavily im- neither inexcusable; on the whole, not at all prisoned, stole Promethean fire. Among these quite worthless. Lavater traced in his physimultitudinous, most miscellaneous Writings ognomy“ something timorous;" which reading of his, in great part a manufactured farrago his friends admitted to be a correct one. Diof Philosophism no longer salcable, and now derot, in truth, is no hero: the earnest soul, looking melancholy enough,-are two that we wayfaring and warfaring in the complexities can almost call Poems; that have something of a World like to overwhelm him, yet whereperennially poetic in them : Jacques le Fata- | in he by Heaven's grace will keep faithfully liste; in a still higher degree, the Neveu de Ra- warfaring, prevailing or not, can derive small meau. The occasional blueness of both; even solacement from this light, fluctuating, not to that darkest indigo in some parts of the former, say flimsy existence of Diderot: no Gospel in shall not altogether affright us. As it were, a that kind has he left us. The man, in fact, loose straggling sunbeam flies here over Man's with all his high gifts, had rather a female Existence in France, now nigh a century be- character. Susceptible, sensitive, living by hind us: “from the height of luxurious ele. impulses, which at best he had fashioned into gance to the depths of shamelessness;" all is some show of principles; with vehemence here. Slack, careless seems the combination enough, with even a female uncontrollableness; of the picture; wriggling, disjointed, like a with little of manful steadfastness, considerate. bundle of fails; yet strangely united in the iness, invincibility. Thus, too, we find him painter's inward unconscious feeling. Weari- living mostly in the society of women, or of somely crackling wit gets silent; a grim, laci- men who, like women, flattered him, and made turn, dare-devil, almost Hogarthian humour, life easy for him ; recoiling with horror from rises in the background. Like this there is an earnest Jean Jacques, who understood not nothing that we know of in the whole range the science of walking in a vain show; but of French Literature: La Fontaine is shallow imagined (poor man) that truth was there as in comparision; the La Bruyère wit-species a thing to be told, as a thing to be acted. not to be named. It resembles Don Quixote, We call Diderot, then, not a coward; yet rather; of somewhat similar stature; yet of not in any sense a brave man. Neither tocomplexion allogether different; through the wards himself, nor towards others, was he brave. All the virtues, says M. de Meister, | not done what lay at our hand towards reducing which require not “a great suite (sequency) that same Memoirism of the Eighteenth Cenof ideas,” were his: all that do require such a tury into History, and "weaving" a thread or suite were not his. In other words, what du. two thereof nearer to the condition of a “ web?" ties were easy for him, he did : happily Na. But finally, if we rise with this matter (as tnre had rendered several easy. His spiritual we should try to do with all) into the proper aim, moreover, seemed not so much to be en- region of Universal History, and look on it forcement, exposition of Duty, as discovery with the eye not of this time, or of that time, of a Duty-made-easy. Natural enough that but of Time at large, perhaps the prediction he should strike into that province of sentiment, might stand here, that intrinsically, essentially pour-noble, and so forth. Alas, to declare that little lies in it; that one day when the nei. the beauty of virtue is beautiful, costs compa- result of our Euro: ean way of life comes to ratively little; to win it, and wear it, is quite be summed up, this whole as yet so boundless another enterprise, -wherein the loud brag. concern of French Philosophism will dwindle garl, we know, is not the likeliest to succeed. into the thinnest of fractions, or vanish into On the whole, peace be with sentiment, for that nonentity! Alas, while the rude History and also lies behind us !-For the rest, as hinted, Thoughts of those same “ Juifs miseri. bles," the what duties were difficult our Diderot left un- barbaric War-song of a Deborah and Barak, done. How should he, the caur sensible, front the rapt prophetic Utterance of an unkempi such a monster as Pain? And now, since Isaiah, last now (with deepest significance) say misgivings cannot fail in that course, what is only these three ihousand years - what has the to be done but fill up all asperities with floods thrice resplendent Enrylopédie shrivelled into of Sensibilité, and so voyage more or less within these three-score! This is a faci smoothly along? Est-il bon ? Est-il méchant? which, explain it, express it, in which way be is his own account of himself. At all events, will, your Encyclopedist should actually conhe was no voluntary hypocrite ; that great sider. Those were tones caught from the sapraise can be given him. And thus with Me- cred Melody of the All, and having harmony chanical Philosophism, and passion rire ; work- and meaning for ever; these of his are but ing, fiirting; “ with more of softness than of outer discords, and their jangling dies a tray true affection, sometimes with the malice and without result. “The special, sole, and deeprage of a child, but on the whole an inex. est theme of the World's and Man's History," haustible fund of goodnatured simplicity,” has says the Thinker of our lime, whereto all he come down to us for beiter for worse : and other themes are subordinated, remains the what can we do but receive him?
Conflict of UNBELIEF and BELIEF. All epochs
wherein Belief prevails, under what form it If now we and our reader, reinterpreting may, are splendid, heart-elevating, fruitful for for our present want that Life and Perform-contemporaries and posterity. All epochs, on ance of Diderot, have brought it clearer be the contrary, wherein Unbelief, under wha fore us, be the hour spent thereon, were it form soever, maintains its sorry victory, should even more wearisome, no profitless one! they even for a moment glitter with a sham Have we not striven to unite our own brief splendour, vanish from the eyes of posterity; present moment more and more compactly because no one chooses to bu: des himself with the Past and with the Future ; have wel with study of the unfruitful.
ON HISTORY AGAIN.
(FRASER'S MAGAZINE, 1833.)
(The following singular fragment on History taking. As will be seen, it is one of the
forms part, as may be recognised, of the didactic passages that we introduce here. Inaugural Discourse delivered by our assi. The Editor of this Magazine is responsible duous “D. T." at the opening of the Society for its accuracy, and publishes, if not with for the Diffusion of Common Honesty. The leave given, then with leave taken.-0. Y.] Discourse, if one may credit the Morning
• * History recommends itself as the most Papers, "touched in the most wonderful
profitable of all studies : and truly, for such a manner, didactically, poetically, almost pro- being as Man, who is born, and has to learn and phetically, on all things in this world and work, and then after a measured term of years the next, in a strain of sustained or rather to depart, leaving descendants and perform. of suppressed passionate eloquence rarely ances, and so, in all ways, to vindicate him. witnessed in Parliament or out of it: the could be fitter. History is the Letter of In.
self as vital portion of a Mankind, no stady chief bursts were received with profound structions, which the old generations write silence,”-interrupted, we fear, by snuff-I and posthumously transmit to the new; nay
Horare WoTV u de l
it may be called, more generally still, the Mes | what the given world was, what it had and what
truly magnificent provision she has made,
heart and urged by hunger, will many times