Notices Of New Publications -- By: Anonymous
BSac 7:25 (Jan 1850) p. 191
Notices Of New Publications
1. Stewart’s Moral Philosophy1
“In this treatise Mr. Stewart has rather presented the opinions of others, than come forth in propria persona with any sustained pleading of his own; and, as in most of his other performances, instead of grappling with the question, he presents us with the literature of the question — made of history therefore, rather than of argument, and altogether composing but the outline of what had been said or reasoned by other men, yet accompanied with a very few slight yet elegant touches from his own hand. We by no means agree with those who think of this interesting personage, that, considering the few substantive additions he made to philosophy, he therefore as a philosopher had gained an unfair reputation. It is true, he has not added much to the treasures of science; yet in virtue of a certain halo which by the glow of his eloquence and the purity and nobleness of his sentiments he threw around the cause, he abundantly sustained the honors of it. It reminds us of what is often realized in the higher walks of society, when certain men vastly inferior to others, both in family and in fortune, do, in virtue of a certain lofty bearing, in which they are upheld by the consciousness of a grace and a dig-
BSac 7:25 (Jan 1850) p. 192
nity that natively belong to them, not usurp the highest place in fashion, but have that place most readily awarded to them by the spontaneous consent and testimony of all. It was thus with Stewart in the world of letters. His rank and reputation were not owing either to the number or importance of the discoveries achieved by him. But he had what many discoverers have not. He had the sustained and lofty spirit of a high toned Academic, and never did any child, whether of science or poetry, breathe in an atmosphere more purely ethereal. The je ne scais quoi of manner does not wield a more fascinating power in the circles of fashion, than did the indescribable charm of his rare and elevated genius over our literary circles; and when we consider the homage of reverence and regard which he drew from general society, we cannot but wish that many successors may arise in his own likeness — who might build up an aristocracy of learning, that shall infuse a finer element into the system of life, than any which has ever been distilled upon it from the vulgar aristocracies of wealth and of power.” Chalmers’ Natural Theology, Book 1, Ch. 4. Note.
So spake the Edinburgh theologian in regard to the Edinburgh philosopher. We think that the merits of Stewart have been undervalued by Chalmers even. It has been fashionable to say, that Stewart entered into the mansion which Reid had left, repainted its walls, and ornamented ...
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